Author's Note: :D Here's a quick one-shot! I hope you enjoy! Review to let me know what you think, please! ;D Also, thanks to Vena for her lovely beta-ing.
Anyone Else, But You
Looking up from my history book, I peered over my glasses at the dork sitting across from me. Catching his solemn expression, a grin spread across my lips.
"Are you serious?"
"What? No, no. You're supposed to reply with, 'who's there?' Okay, let's try it again." He folded his hands in front of him and leaned towards me over the desk we were sitting at.
With eyes rolling, I smirked.
"Lookie, here, Jeff. I'm not your local riddle-dumping site, kay?"
Averting my gaze back to my book, I ignored Jeff. Rather, I attempted to.
"And, stop rubbing your feet against mine. Footsie with your corned feet does not turn me on." Mock-shuddering, I leaned away from him, nose still glued to the book.
Exasperated, Jeff dropped his head into his hands – and his feet back to the floor.
"Come on, just play along." Sitting up, he leaned over the table between us and snatched up the book I'd been reading.
"Hey, hey, watch it! That's Skinny Bitch I'm currently reading and mocking." I had stood up and scrambled to his side of the desk, reaching for my book. He held me off with one forearm, laughing as I raised my arms towards the praise Jesu—that is, praise-vegans-spewing novel.
But, no such luck. His six-foot plus frame left my measly five-five physique wanting more vertical-age.
It was like our kindergarten year on replay.
I whisked my black hair out of my face, and held out a hand, palm upward.
"I'll play your inane game. Hand the hostage over, first." I shook my palm almost violently in front of his chest.
When he grasped my wrist gently and pulled me in for a bear hug, I stiffened up. It wasn't that I was uncomfortable. More like, I was too comfortable. These days, I found myself enjoying Jeff's company more and more. And not in the best friends way we'd had growing up.
Oh, no. My innocent friendship was blooming into full raging hormonal torture. I mean, what the hell? I was there when Jeff used to pee himself in fright over Barney. Hell, I was there when he laughed so hard, his nose became a fountain that gushed Gatorade. And now? Now, the kid was used to walking around half naked, and I had to resist nibbling the contours of his abs and chest.
...What kind of freak has the urge to nibble her best friend's bod? Oh, right.
Grumbling, I poked him in his side – right under the rib cage – where I knew it tickled him most.
As he guffawed, I ducked for cover from his flying spittle and snagged Skinny Bitch from his relaxed hands.
"Hah!" Triumphant, I smirked and leaned back in my chair.
Hee. Katie, 1. Jeff, 0.
"Now, where were we? Ah, found it. Reasons why we ought to cut out pork and all other heathenish evil meat-creatures."
Groaning, Jeff plucked a pillow from off of his bed and beamed it at my head.
"Stop, stop! No more of this girl crap. I'm gonna go manorexic or something, Katie."
Glaring at him, I stuck my tongue out. Hah! Beat that one, buddy.
As he crossed his eyes at me, I curbed the desire to chuck my book at him.
"Anyway, seriously," I huffed. Forcibly putting my book away, I hauled out our textbooks. "We should get to work on this project for Hillman's. Dude, he'll pop a major artery if we're not ready by next week. And if he busts blood on my clothes, it'll be up to you to explain to my mom that I wasn't trying to suicide myself. If I do, it will be because of your twisted love of afflicting me with horrendous knock-knock jokes."
I turned my nose up at him as he cocked an eyebrow at me.
"You. You, Katie, are the biggest dork of life." He leaned over to pat my head.
Disregarding the tingle that spread across my scalp, I replied, "No, loser. I am the most awesome best friend who set up residence in your life."
His lips lifted and he shrugged his shoulders.
"Yeah, that, too."
"Katie, Katie, Katie, Katie, Ka—"
I spun around and shoved a hand over the frenetic girl's mouth.
"Shhhh… Say it once. Just once, Alison." At her wide-eyed nod, I removed my hand. Making sure there was no longer an echo resounding my head, I shouldered my backpack. "So, what's up?"
"Oh my gawwwddd, how can you be so calm?"
The confusion on my face must have penetrated her brain because she decided to enlighten me after a lengthy silence.
"I just heard that Rachel wants to ask Jeff to prom!" She yelled it as if that would be the answer to all of life's problems.
I mean, why wouldn't I be calm? Who gives a damn about the class hoe and what she wanted to do? So what if she wanted to ask… out… ask out Jeff?
Tugging on my arm, Alison led a dazed me towards the cafeteria.
"Wait, what? Rachel has a thing for Jeff? S-so, what?"
Nodding smugly, Alison said, "Yes. Rachel Corvan has a thing for Jeff Donahue. Your crush."
I narrowed my eyes, catching her gaze with mine. Coldly, I muttered a soft, "What?"
Mistaking my question as an insistence for more information as opposed to feeling indignant that she would dare – dare – accuse me of crushing on my best friend, Alison babbled on.
"Yeah, I mean. It's all over campus! Rachel just walked up to Jeff after their class and smooched him one. And, from what I hear…" Alison peered around her as if any other person gave a bigger damn than I did, lowered her voice to a small whisper, and continued. "From what I hear, it was some niiiiiiiiice smooching."
Images danced around in my head, teasing and taunting. Lips colliding. No, it would have probably been more seductive. So, lips smoothing over lip-glossed lips, tongues dipping, heart rate increasing—in the middle of a freaking hallway, no less! I cringed at the jealousy that conquered my thoughts.
My eyes slid straight from her to the cafeteria doors we were closing in on. Jeff – my Jeff – and Rachel, the class hoe, had been duking it out with their tongues? No. Certainly not. He hadn't even mentioned the platinum blonde bimbo to me, and I was the one who gave the go or no go. I mean, hello? I knew him best; therefore, I knew what was best for him.
Rachel prattled on as I inched away, not even noticing me as she ran off to hound the next poor soul with more gossip. I ran through the doors of the cafeteria and did a quick sweep of the seats to search for Jeff.
A graceful whirl slipped by me, bumping me from behind. Said whirlwind was none other than Rachel. Falling into a cliché, much? See the prince, get slammed by the wart-faced princess? Oh, wait. Maybe not so cliché.
I wrinkled my nose as her pungent perfume clogged my nostrils. Ugh. Spritz once, woman, once.
Jeffypoooo? Sneering, I made my way to Jeff who had already been seated and digging into his lunch. Rachel had her arms slung over his shoulders as she stood behind him and whispered into his ear.
Okay, okay. Jeff totally doesn't go for blondes, ever. He's always been after the quiet types. You know, the ones who read up on Kafka, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy and Hemingway for fun. All of his jock friends made fun of him for it. Even me.
So, when the hell did he start digging chicks that wore just as little fabric as they used neurons? Or had his dick finally jumped into gear and was ruling his head? Oh, no! Beware of the Dick Invasion!
"Jeffypooo," I cooed as I caught Jeff's attention. "Oh, Jeffypoo, you're so hunky!"
"Katiekins, you're such a brain." Patting my hand affectionately, he resumed the process of inhaling his lunch.
Rolling my eyes, I plopped down across from Jeff, my usual seat at lunch. Ignoring the she-cat behind him that was all but baring her teeth at me – alongside her generous cleavage – I tried to appear confident.
After all, I was the best friend. She was just the side dish to fulfill whatever primitive urges he was so obviously caught up in.
"So, like, Kathy, your glasses are so chic! I mean, for such thick glasses, they totally rock!" Rachel finally took a seat to the right of Jeff. With her hand in his lap, she watched me shrewdly as I took in her backhanded compliment.
Smiling with all teeth, I mocked her dopey expression and voice. "I know, like, they were nearly as expensive as your rack. Totally nice, Rachel. What are you now? Like, a D-cup? So chic!"
And, honestly. Did she really think calling me Kathy on purpose would make me look bad?
Jeff had listened to our conversation with an amused expression. I couldn't tell if he was backing her or backing me in his head. He was never stupid or incredibly dense, so I knew that he could hear and see the animosity between us two girls.
"Now, now, ladies. Play nice. Katie, your glasses are hot. They're like naughty librarian hot." He grinned at me salaciously before turning to Rachel. "And you, Rachel, have nice breasts. But I may need a closer inspection."
I felt somewhat irrational as I realized I was getting ticked off at him and his haphazard response. It was so Jeff-ish, and yet callous at the same time. I didn't care that he knew nothing of my budding infatuation. Feeling a bit hurt at his insensitivity I slung my backpack over my shoulder.
I was so over this. I was not about to lower myself further for Jeff's entertainment. I was his best friend. Not some little groupie of his to squabble with the girls who crushed on him.
"Yo, I'm out." I switched my glance from him to Rachel and added impassively, "We still have to finish our project, Donahue. Let me know when you've finished dicking around."
Great. Jealousy kicks in unwanted.
Grumbling, I walked over to Jeff's house. Looking up at the dark cumulonimbus clouds overhead, I found it ironic that it should match my mood. I also thanked the fact that we lived only a few houses apart. Water was good, but being drenched? Not so much.
I knocked on the door of his front porch and was let in by his older brother, Justin, who was used to me popping over unannounced. With a small wave and a grin for greeting, Justin headed back upstairs to his room.
Stomping my way towards Jeff's bedroom, I yelled out, "On with the clothes, Jeff! I'm heading in!"
Slamming his door open, I wasn't ready for the plushie that struck me in the forehead.
Picking up the horribly sewn stuffed doll from the floor while the other hand rubbed at my abused forehead, I glanced up at Jeff who was laughing. Scowling, I waved the doll at him.
"What the hell is this?" I examined the horribly cut brown cloth and the badly sewn eyes. "And what'd you stuff this with? Rocks? It's as hard as that cake you botched."
Still chuckling, he calmed down enough to say, "It's a dammit doll." Smirking, he handed me a sheet of paper.
Whenever things don't go so well,
And you want to punch a wall and yell,
Here's a little dammit doll,
That will take the fall.
Just grasp it firmly by the legs,
And find a place to slam it,
And as you whack the stuffing out,
Yell, "DAMMIT! DAMMIT! DAMMIT!"
The humor of the doll spread across my expression, leaving a grin in its wake.
"Where in the world did you come up with this?"
He shrugged as I flipped the doll over and noticed the lack of a tag as well as the crooked sewing. Smiling, I assumed Jeff had made it.
"So, what's the occasion for this?" Touching the soft fabric of the doll, I wanted to ignore the feeling of being special to Jeff. Did he like me? Had he begun noticing me as I was beginning to notice him? No, I doubted that. But, I was special enough to warrant him making me a dammit doll.
Beat that, Rachel.
"Nothing special. Just thought you needed a better outlet for all your pent up anger. I mean, God knows, you don't sleep with guys enough to rid yourself of all your sexual frustration." The wiseass even had the gall to wink at the end of his spiel.
Anger issues, pfft.
Smiling innocently at the unaware boy, I lunged after him with the dammit doll gripped in both hands and yelled, "Dammit, dammit, dammit!"
Morning. Tons of happy twittering birds. Ladeedah, I thought.
Heading towards school, I played with the dammit doll Jeff had given me. It sat in the passenger seat of my car as I poked at it once in a while at a red light. I was starting to worry over the amount of time my mind strayed towards the doll's maker.
Why the hell was he so enmeshed in my thoughts?
"The nut doesn't even deserve a girl like me to have a crush on him!" Saying it out loud made me feel better. Sounded a little psychotic, yes, but at least I felt a little better.
Feeling frustrated, I thought maybe I should tell him about my emotions. But then there was the fear of the relationship dynamics changing, or worse, thudding to a stop.
I like you.
I stared at Dammit, willing it to take on Jeff's form and voice.
I like you.
Hmm. How difficult would it be to say those three words? We'd said, "I love you," in passing as friends before, but that had never held the feelings that flooded my heart now.
If I said it now, would it relieve some of the ache?
Muttering to myself, I'd arrived at West Lakes High's parking lot before I had a chance to mutter another 'Dammit.'
During the day, I'd carried Dammit – my aptly-named dammit doll – in my book bag.
I needed to tell Jeff my feelings. That was the perfect decision. I was far too honest with him to get on much longer without throwing my vag at him sooner or later. More likely sooner, though, than later.
This morning in first block, he had simply walked in, and as we talked about the previous night's football game, I couldn't keep my eyes off his hands or my thoughts from the sound of his voice as opposed to the subject at hand.
Lunch again, and I'd been dragging Dammit around in search for Jeff. Unfortunately for me, he had not been in the cafeteria.
I swept into the courtyard that set apart the fine arts building and the library, and spotted him leaning against the far wall. He appeared deep in thought, but it wasn't that clear as there were a crap load of trees blocking my sight of him.
Once I reached him, I wished I hadn't been looking for him. I should have just taken lunch with Alison or Jesus or Mary, hell I'd have taken the devil himself.
Because I really didn't care to see the back of Rachel's head, or the way it tilted as they kissed. I didn't care to see his hands cupping her cheeks – and I most definitely did not mean the ones on her face. Neither did I care to hear Rachel's moaning.
What was I to do? Interrupt?
Yes, this is your daily weather service. West Lakes High seems to be flooding with hormones. Please try not to drown in the nearest set of tonsils. You just might end up having isolated rain showers.
I wasn't sure what happened next. All I knew was that I had frozen up while my tear ducts decided to start working.
Staring at the two entwined bodies, I couldn't remember if Jeff had opened his eyes and noticed me or if I had dropped Dammit and made a sound, first. Either way, he saw me and Dammit was unwanted on the pavement.
I couldn't deal with it.
As he pushed away from Rachel, and was probably going to say something cocky or teasing, I simply turned and walked away.
I couldn't cry. I couldn't scream. I couldn't even use the dammit doll.
It would not have been right. He didn't know how I felt, and although I wanted to do all those things inside, I couldn't let them tumble out.
"Katie? Hey, Katie!"
I halted, hesitated, but refused to look over my shoulder at the couple. I could imagine Rachel's smug expression, and that was enough to send me sprinting back out of the courtyard.
That's how I felt as I finally rushed into a bathroom stall and locked myself in.
Glaring at my bedroom door, I turned away from Jeff's poor attempt at cheering me up.
"Come on, Katie. What's going on?" Jeff's muffled voice asked. "Look, open up your door. Don't make me get your mom."
I flipped the lock and edged backwards back onto my bed as he opened the door and deposited Dammit on my computer desk.
"Well?" He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorframe.
I glowered at him.
"What?" I asked defensively.
"Come on, you just zoomed out of the courtyard this afternoon. It was weird." He shrugged his shoulders. His masculine, broad shoulders. Well, those shoulders now belonged to Rachel.
"I dunno," was my noncommittal reply.
He sighed, and nudged me with his elbow. "Come on, Katie. What's bugging?"
This should have been the perfect time to just tell him about my feelings. Any other normal person would have done so, but I just seemed utterly incapable of normalcy.
"I just feel uncomfortable about Rachel. That's all."
"Aw, come on. She's just a bang. You know how it goes. She's hardly going to become the next Katie."
Did I say he was smart? No, scratch that. He had to have been the densest male, ever.
"So, cheer up, emo kid. Don't be all dark and grumbly." He patted me on the shoulder.
"Anyway, I've got the next best KK joke for you." Nodding his head at me, he said, "Knock, knock."
I wrapped myself in my arms.
"Who's there?" I mumbled.
He sat beside me on the edge of my bed. His arms came around my shoulders to hold me, his chest pressed against mine.
"Jeff, who?" I deadpanned.
His last words couldn't help but leave me with a small smile.
"Jeff, the most amazing guy ever. In fact, you're lucky to know him! He happens to be Kaitlyn Devon's best friend."
I snorted. He leaned closer and placed his cheek on top of my head.
"You hear that, Katie?"
I didn't know how to tell him that he had misunderstood the entire situation. I wasn't worried about being his best friend or being replaced. I just didn't know how to explain my hormonal shift in affection for him.
"I'll always be here for you, no matter what."
My eyes caught a picture framed on my desk of the two of us as kids. As friends. My eyes closed and I tried to shut out the hollow pain. It was aching me, the way I didn't know how to explain myself.
Just what I wanted.
I never took things sitting down. I was a fighter, I thought, with confidence. So, to hell with all this wishy-washy crap.
Without warning, I lifted my gaze to his, cupped his head with my hands, and pulled his face to mine.
His eyes went round with shock.
There were two matching gasps.
Our lips collided.