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 9 – 4 – 6 )

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.


.o6. Damage Controlled


Why was I even here?

I paced in front of the door, running my hands over my face with every step I took. I had managed to make it to Zack's house with any problems. But as I stood here on his front porch, I couldn't bring myself to knock on the door.

The lights were on in the living room and voices were audible. A distinct female voice rung through the air, indicating the possibility of Karen still being there. It wasn't difficult to tell that they were all enjoying themselves at the moment, the drama of their lives obviously not a factor.

I suppose sometimes it was nice to just get away from reality and live stress free for a few hours, forgetting that it was necessary to return eventually. Unfortunately for Zack, I was that reality that was coming back to find him.

I sucked in my breath and raised my fist to knock on the door. Thrice, I heard the knock echo as footsteps pounded across what seemed to be the living room. The light from the front porch flicked on, the chain scraping from its lock. The door swung open as I saw Max laughing, his hand still holding onto the knob.

However when he saw me standing idly on his front porch, the laughter immediately died. He froze, his demeanor suddenly turning frigid. I guess he knew as well; nonetheless, I deserved this.

"What do you want?" Max snapped through the screen door. "Don't you think you've already done enough? And to think I actually thought you were a respectable person."

His words cut through me, but I said nothing. I merely leaned my head forward, taking his words blow by blow.

"Max, what the hell?" His voice rang through the air, but I couldn't see him. Max turned his head to face Zack as what I assumed to be his footsteps neared the front door.

"Hi." I whispered meekly when I saw Zack appear on the other side of the screen door. My heart immediately went back into hyper mode, reminding me of the exact reason why I was on his front porch. Zack stared at me, but whispered something to Max. The latter began to protest, but Zack dismissed him.

"Careful." Max spat, but walked away to leave Zack and I alone, separated by the door.

"Zack, about last night…" I started.

He put up a hand, effectively shutting me up. He stepped out of the house, letting the door shut noisily behind him. "I really don't want to hear any apologies. What happens, happens, okay? I mean, you got what you wanted, didn't you?"

"And how would you know what I wanted?" I quickly retorted, all thoughts flying out. He had never given me the chance to explain anything. Hell, he walked out and ignored me for the next day, never letting me tell him that I liked him, not Jarred.

"Oh, please." Zack scoffed, crossing his arms across his chest. "I'm not stupid, you know. I'm in college for a reason. You can't lie and say you haven't been after Jarred since day one. Just because I'm a guy doesn't mean I don't see these things."

My anger suddenly got the best of me. Something inside snapped as I took a large step forward. I jabbed my finger against his chest, consequently making him falter backwards. I took delight in that as his reaction was similar to Chris's that night, but I just as quickly remembered my original intention. "That clearly says you don't know what I want." I retorted. "Hell you just asked me…" I trailed off at that, not exactly knowing how to properly word it.

Luckily, Zack didn't miss a beat. He straightened immediately at my words and grabbed my hand which was placed so conveniently on his chest. "And what if I did ask you?" he whispered. "Last year if I asked, you can't say you would've said anyone's name but Jarred's."

I ducked my head; he was right. For so long, I was being blinded by my own stupidity. Hell, Zack was the constant presence in my life, asides from Dale. As for Jarred? He was there, but he was a transient figure. One moment he'd be with me, the next with Elena. I could never tell what he was in my life. It was only when my life finally erupted in my face could I tell what I truly wanted.

"I know, and that's my own fault. I know." I finally managed to say. I couldn't bring myself to even look at Zack. One look and it was all over. "But all this made me see something. It's never been Jarred, you know? I've figured that much out."

I took in a deep breath and let my eyes slide shut. I heard him take a step towards me. He lifted my chin upwards to look at him, his dark eyes drilling into my own. My heart skipped another beat as his eyes quickly dropped to my lips. All I needed to do was say the words and all this would ultimately be worth it.

But before either of us could make a move, the screen door slammed open. Zack's hand dropped away from me as he took a large step back. I felt the warmth leave my body as I glared at our intruder – Max, no less.

"Yo man, come on." he snapped, glaring at me simultaneously. "We gotta go. Talk with her later."

I opened my mouth to protest, as did Zack, but neither of us got to speak. Chris suddenly appeared behind Max, a murderous glare plastered on his face. "Drop it." Chris hissed, before throwing me a look. I couldn't tell if it was of disgust or appreciation. Either way, I appreciated his interruption. He caught Max by the collar and pulled him back into the house. Their voices erupted into argument, but someone shut the heavy wooden door in order to block out the sound.

Chris's presence suddenly reminded me of another person in that household, a certain girl that had been plaguing my mind. "You and Karen? I heard you tell Jarred in that parking lot-"

"In order to encourage him to ask you out." Zack filled in, taking a step towards me. In response, I retreated, repeating until I found myself in that cliché position – trapped against a wall with the man of my dreams inches in front of me. "Stop trying to change the subject. What were you saying before?"

I took in a deep breath and look up towards the ceiling. I could easily lie and say I was thinking about Chris. But that would immediately ruin the exact reason why I was putting myself through in the first place (not to mention, Dale would murder me).


At the sound of my name, I immediately made eye contact with him and I was lost again. This was it – I had to.

"It took me years to figure out." I whispered. "God, from the minute I saw him, I pushed down my feelings; I was afraid. He had the attention of so many girls and I thought I had no chance. But slowly, he's proved to be the one constant in my life that I can always rely on. He's always there when I need him. Then this year, I talked him into doing something very stupid. He agreed, simply because that's the type of person he is. I can assure you, nothing good happened from this, except for the fact that I realized just how much I liked him."

Zack cocked an eyebrow at that and tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. He let his finger linger on my cheek as he leaned closer. I soon found myself in a compromising position – my back touching the wall and his right leg between mine. His free hand was next to my head against the wall as he closed in on me.

"This guy," he whispered in my ear, causing shivers down my spine, "is he by any chance a real idiot for not letting you explain this before he bolted out the door?"

I turned my head a little to meet eye to eye. I smiled lightly, whispering a simple 'yes', before I did the unexpected. Taking the initiative I leaned closer to him, my eyes slowly sliding shut. I paused briefly centimeters from his lips. I could hear his labored breathing, causing warm air to beat down on my skin. Before I could change my mind, I let my lips connect to his for a second, maybe two or three.

Either way, it felt so right. His hands slid to my hips, pulling me closer, as mine went around his neck to do the same. The tension that had built around us for the past month seemingly erupted in this second as I savored his every touch.

He finally pulled away from me, his eyes never leaving my own. A small smile graced his lips. I returned the gesture, finally at ease. "You know, ever since I asked you for this small favor, I've been beating myself up every night. Not to mention, Dale hasn't been so eager to forget it either."

Zack laughed and ran his hand through his hair. "Well, it has been a pretty bad past month for both of us emotionally, I'd say. You put Jarred through hell as well. But I have to say, this ended pretty well, for us at least."

With that, his lips met mine yet again as I smiled into the kiss.

And I would have to say, I couldn't ask for anything more.

Author's Note

Oh my God. This chapter was terrible. It was horrible and ridiculously short. So below par, but I just had absolutely no idea how to end it properly. I've been struggling with this chapter for the past month, and last night, I finally told myself to just write it in one sitting. So I did, and I ended up with this. I just needed to finish this story though, especially since I only had this one last chapter to write. Anyway, I'm sorry about this horrible return and the gigantic delay in writing another story.

BUT, I want to thank EVERYONE for the support throughout me writing this. The reviews were wonderful, and the feedback just made me happy. I appreciate everything all you readers have helped me get through, even though few of you actually realize you help me write. It's the feedback and love from you all. I really do appreciate it!

But here I am, living proof that I am in fact alive and still writing! So much has happened and I'm happy to say that the next four years of my education will be spent studying in the Big Apple - NYU!!!!!!!! Whooo!!!!!!! After a string of rejects, I was extraordinarily relieved to see that I was accepted into my #4 school.

Anyway, stay tuned. I am currently working on a one-shot related to Damage Control, which goes into Chris and Dale.

Now that I have finished this, I will now focus my attention on other stories. Thank you, yet again!

All love in the world,