Chapter 13

Long Time No See

It had been a couple of weeks since the sleepover and El's not so little epiphany. Thankfully, El hadn't had a migraine since and she was ecstatic about that. But on the other hand, things had gotten very awkward between her and Zack. Like the fact that she had been catching him blatantly staring at her with those striking grey eyes of his. Yet he would quickly divert them and try to play it off. But she always saw him looking and saw that stupid, yet heartbreakingly cute, smile that would appear on his face right after. She wasn't so innocent either though. She too had been caught practically gawking at the boy more times than she would like to admit. Touching was another issue El soon found herself hyper aware of. Just the littlest bump or nudge would make her face burn red hot. She was sure it showed on her face. Therefore, she had taken a liking to wearing her hair down. It made quite a good shield.

"El!" El thought about getting up from her spot on her bed, but decided to ignore what sounded like her father calling her downstairs and continued to look up music on her laptop. After being called three more times El figured she should probably see what her dad wanted. She got up quickly and made her way downstairs.

"Yeah, Dad?" El asked as she walked into the kitchen. When she walked in she saw her father covered in what looked like some kind of red punch. El outright laughed at her father before asking what happened.

"An accident."

"Obviously Dad, but enough said. Sucks that you're so accident prone Pops, but thank God I didn't inherit that trait from you."

"Well, if you're done criticizing me on my lack of coordination can you do me a favor?"

El couldn't help herself. She loved agitating her father sometimes; it was just so funny seeing his reactions. El figured she would push the envelope some more and smiled widely at her father while saying in an overly sweet voice, "Of course Father Dearest. I would love to be of assistance to you like the lovely, talented, outstanding daughter I am." El batted her eyelashes.

El's Father returned an equally cheesy smile, "Good. Now go get some paper towels because we're out my lovely, talented, outstanding, mouthy, sarcastic, lazy daughter." El's Father mimicked her earlier actions and batted his eyelashes.

"Well then Padre, I see where I get my love for sarcasm from. Be back in a few, oh and try not to have any more accidents. Mom's already going to be on your case for staining her new dish towels with that red punch."

El's Father mumbled to himself about the stupid blue towel and the stupid punch as he tried not to get anything else stained.

Twenty minutes later, El was wondering around the local grocery store looking for paper towels. She was getting really agitated that they had rearranged the whole store. With a lack of determination she turned down another isle and let out a frustrated groan.

"Dude! I've been down this isle like five times, where are the flippin paper towels at?" She mumbled.

"Looking for these?" said a familiar voice right in El's ear.

She whipped around surprised, her black curls smacking the person in the face, and let out a high pitched squeal when she saw her old time friend standing there with an awkward grin on his face.

"No way! Brian? Brian Rudner?!"

"El Martin!" Brian said in reply.

El couldn't contain herself and jumped into Brian's out stretched arms. She squealed as he picked her up and spun her around a couple of times. When Brian finally set her down she didn't feel like letting him go completely so she just rested her hands on his biceps.

"It's been so long. How are you?!"

"I'm good, no great actually. My girlfriend and I just celebrated three years together."

"Wow Brian. That's amazing! You must really like this girl." El squeezed his arms; she just couldn't believe she was seeing Brian Rudner, her closes guy friend besides Zack.

"El, I don't just like this girl, I love her. I think, no, I know I want to marry her sometime in college. She's perfect for me El."

"Oh Brian that is so great. I better be invited to that wedding." El was so happy for her friend. She remembered back in middle school how life never seemed to go Brian's way, whether it was with girls, school, or sports. She was glad things were finally working out for him.

"Enough about me though. What about you, still stirring up trouble everywhere you go?"

"Hey!" El stepped back and punched Brian in the shoulder causing him to wince.

"I see you can still punch like a guy, if not harder."

"You better believe it." El took that moment to notice how Brian had grown. He was no longer the scrawny short boy with glasses she had known since 4th grade up through middle school. Now he was much taller, about 6" 5'ish El guessed, had packed on some muscle, and traded the glasses for contacts. But luckily some things remained the same. Like his deep brown eyes and his very uniquely awkward grin. Even his hair had stayed the same dirty brown shade it was in middle school. Over all, El concluded that he had turned out quite nicely, and he seemed to still hold that very gentleman type personality he had back before he moved. If she wasn't in love with Zack and Brian didn't have a special girl in his life she would most definitely consider asking him out sometime.

Zack ran his hands through his hair once again while walking down the grocery isle. He knew it shouldn't be this hard to fine ketchup. "Why did they have to rearrange the place? Really?" Zack was suddenly pulled from his thoughts by the sound of a high pitched squeal. The squeal sounded oddly familiar. Curiosity getting the best of him, Zack walked over a few isles to see what was going on. That's when Zack saw El. El and some guy. Some guy who was now holding El and swinging her around. Zack felt the wave of jealousy hit him hard. The sight of El looking so happy in this guy's arms made Zack sick to his stomach. She didn't even step out of his hold when he finally put her back down. Zack watched as the two talked and laughed. He had never seen El look like that when she talked to a guy before: her eyes bright and alert and the smile of contentment on her face. He couldn't take it anymore and jetted out of the store.

Zack made it to his car in record time and to his house in an even quicker time. Sitting in his driveway, Zack let his mind wander. He pictured himself being the one to hold El and being the one to make her laugh and smile. "Why can't that be me? Be us?" Zack thought. He reflected over the past few weeks. He thought things were going well. He had caught her glancing at him quite a few times, and he hoped he was dropping hints by the numerous times he let himself get caught watching her. He also noticed the way she responded whenever they touched. She must have thought she was being inconspicuous by wearing her hair down around her face, but he saw her heart-shaped face turn a redish shade every time.

Zack started to get a headache. Why did this whole situation have to be so complicated? "I guess this is what I get for falling for my best lady friend…God help me."

"So, how about those paper towels?" El said as she saw a roll in Brian's hand.

"Well, I saw you walking around awhile ago but wasn't sure if it was you or not, so I followed you around a bit. Then I heard you mumble something about paper towels. I figured I would be of some help and found them for you. So here." Brian awkwardly held out the paper towels for El to take.

El smiled and took the paper towels. "Although I'm a little weirded out that you were following me Brian, thanks. I really appreciate it."

"No problem. Hey, I got to go. Ally and I have a dinner date tonight and I don't want to be late."

"So her name is Ally? That's cute. Brian and Ally…Brally." El said jokingly.

"Umm…sure?" Brian laughed.

"So I guess I'll catch you later. Here's my number. Give me a call sometime so we can officially catch up. And you should bring Ally. I would love to meet her." El took out a blue pen from her back pocket and wrote her number on Brian's hand. She even wrote a short note to Ally telling her she would like to meet her someday.

"That sounds great. You would love her El. I'll see you around, and try to stay out of trouble." Brian said while walking away.

"I'll try, but no promises!" El gave Brian a wink and walked towards the check-out area. It was great seeing her old friend, El thought. It had to have been about three years since he moved. She still couldn't get over how much Brian had grown. She barely recognized him. If it wasn't for Brian's trademark awkward smile and his memorable brown eyes she would have never guessed it was him.

El left the store with the paper towels and a content smile on her face.

A/N: Hey peeps. Hope you liked the chapter. It was fun writing about Brian, he's a pretty cool dude :) Let me know what you thought, I love reading reviews and using them to better my writing. Hope you guys are looking forward to future chapters!

Bye!

-Tig