Disclaimer: I do not own anything you recognise. The characters and setting are otherwise mine. None of the events in this story are based in actuality, so the plot is mine as well. I'd appreciate it if you do not steal.
Advance Warning: This story is a little more disturbing than my other stories. Not physically graphic but it tackles a lot of issues (such as substance abuse, fucked up relationships, etc.) that may offend many people. And the characters are not agreeable.
She fell in love with his arms.
It happened when the school took Mary Masters' junior class for an outing to the seashore, towards the end of June. It was their first day there and everyone was on the beach. Mary sat far enough from the water to ensure that her feet wouldn't get wet, feeling extremely self-conscious because of the perfect bodies of all her female classmates.
Her eyes traced the beach and came to a stop at a group of boys, who were idly kicking a soccer ball between them. She watched them. Almost all of them were in Mary's class and on the varsity soccer team, hence the jackets and jersey shorts they were sporting. As Mary watched, they began splitting themselves up for a game and one by one; they began stripping off their clothes. Mary's eyes traced them, even as she felt like a pervert. They were all good-looking in unconventional, different sort of ways but none of them appealed to her.
Her eyes looked over them again, disinterestedly… until they landed on Stephen Wright. Her breath exited in a whoosh.
In the three months that she'd been in the school, Mary had never seen Stephen as 'hot' or even the slightest bit good-looking. He was tall, but extremely thin with very prominent cheekbones and a diamond stud in his left ear. His hair was a short,curly black, his body always in a slouch and his eyes not captivating enough for her to remember.
But in that one moment, as she looked at him, something within Mary shifted and she found herself feeling a stirring of butterflies in the pit of her stomach.
Because, under his varsity jacket, Stephen was sporting a sleeveless shirt. On display were his arms, making Mary's head swim. Unlike on the posters for various gyms, Stephen wasn't obscenely built. His biceps were well defined, almost bulging and yet oddly suited to his extreme thinness. When he lifted off his jacket, he had shot Mary a glimpse of a set of perfectly developed stomach muscles. With every movement of his hand, all the muscles in his arms flexed and relaxed.
Suddenly, Mary was looking at Stephen in a new light. He seemed hotter now, everything seeming more attractive. She found herself sitting up straighter, her eyes hooked completely onto his arms. She couldn't tear them away. She wracked her brains to remember all she could about Stephen.
He was not the most popular guy in school, though close. He was on the soccer team, one of the best players that they had. He was a heavy smoker and a stoner to boot. She remembered hearing about how he'd once downed an entire bottle of cough medicine in school, just to get high. He was also a drinker and often crashed motorbikes under intoxication. She had heard somewhere that he had a sick sort of fascination with carving things into tables and stuff.
While Mary stared and contemplated, Stephen leapt into the air– his muscles flexing impressively– and smashed the ball straight onto one of his friend's heads. Everyone around him cracked up. He laughingly exchanged hi-fives with his friends. The girls around him tittered, but he didn't notice.
At the flash of his white teeth, something in Mary twisted again. She stood and walked away.
Later that night, Mary sat by the bonfire, desperately looking for him. She didn't know why. All she knew was that there was an elastic band in her that was stretched tight and she needed to see him again before it broke.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when someone fell into the sand beside her. Mary looked to the side and saw Sue Mills, the one girl that Mary was friends with because she hadn't made much of an effort to fit into the school. Mary and Sue had been childhood friends until they were seven, when Sue had moved. They'd been reunited ten years later, this time by Mary's move.
"Hey." Sue smiled. "I haven't seen you all day."
Mary smiled back, unable to help it, even while her mind was running. She was still considered a new girl. Sue, on the other hand, was one of the most popular girls in the school. She would know a lot more about Stephen than Mary could ever hope to.
Even though she knew how wrong it was, Mary tried coming up with ways to pump Sue for information about Stephen, without letting on. Her mouth returned the routine pleasantries and then took over. One by one, Mary began asking questions about all the guys and girls, starting with Sue's best friends. She searched desperately for a link.
"–So, Cathy liked Stephen desperately. He didn't even look at her though, even when she used to sit in his lap and shit like that. Thank Jesus, she finally got the hint and moved on. God, she's such a slut."
Mary leapt onto the information like a dehydrated man on water. "Oh." She said, nodding nonchalantly. "What's Stephen like, anyway? I mean, I've heard a lot of stuff."
Sue innocently took the bait, much to Mary's relief. "Well," she said enthusiastically. "He's actually very nice. I mean, you wouldn't expect that from a person like him, but he is. He's so hot. Almost every girl has liked him at one time or another."
"I don't see his appeal." Mary said, hoping the strain didn't show.
"Have you seen his arms?" Sue demanded. Mary had. "Have you seen his legs?" Yes. "Have you even looked at him?" More than she was supposed to.
"Still." Mary shrugged. "Besides, I heard he had a girlfriend." She hoped that Sue didn't know that she was fishing.
Sue wouldn't meet Mary's eyes. "Actually, he doesn't. But he is interested in someone."
"Oh." Mary replied.
Then, all of a sudden, her eyes were dragged to the side, as though magnetised. She saw Stephen enter with his friends, sporting a Cowboys jersey and his hands shoved into his shorts' pockets. Her body had sensed his presence a lot earlier than she'd seen him. She wondered what that meant.
Mary wasn't far gone enough not to see the way Sue's eyes had lit up too. "I'll be right back, okay?" She asked, standing and moving to the group of boys. As soon as she reached them, one of them broke away. She tried stopping him with a few words, but he brushed her away and briskly walked towards Mary.
It took Mary a few seconds to recognise him. He was Sam Carter, a boy in her homeroom, Stephen's best friend and one of the only people who she could tolerate. As he fell down beside her, he sullenly said, "Hey, Mary."
"Hi." Mary looked at him from the side of her eyes. "What's up with you?" She asked him.
He shrugged unhelpfully. "Sue. She's bugging the shit out of me. Why can't she leave me the fuck alone?"
Mary felt offended on her friend's behalf. "I thought you liked her." She commented, trying to get back in the loop.
"I'm not the only one." Sam muttered. Mary followed his line of vision and something in her seized up.
Sue and Stephen were talking, both of them laughing. Sue's hand was on his arm– the one that Mary loved– and she was leaning in towards him flirtatiously. Bile rose in her throat. It was sick and twisted and oddly fitting that Sue was the girl that Stephen liked.
"Oh." Mary said, shortly.
"He's been in love with Sue since the beginning of this year." Sam whispered. "He knows that I like her too, but he won't back off. And one minute she's with me, the next with him. I don't know what to think."
"I'm sorry." Mary gave the expected, appropriate reply.
Then, almost as though they were meant to be there, Mary's eyes flicked to Stephen. She knew it was in her imagination because Stephen could hide his feelings well, but Mary could've sworn that his eyes were adoringly gazing at Sue. Even though she knew it was irrational after such a short time of crushing on him, Mary felt jealousy twist in her stomach.
"I've got to go." She abruptly said, standing. She couldn't stand to watch Stephen in the vicinity of Sue, now that she knew how she herself felt about him and how he felt about the other girl.
"You like him, don't you?" Sam demanded in a bitter tone, not looking up from where he was tracing patterns in the sand with a stick.
Mary stopped still. For a minute, her heart beat irregularly and it wasn't just because Stephen smiled at Sue, who was whispering in his ear. Without turning and looking at Sam, Mary replied, "Yes."
"Motherfucker." Sam cursed.
"I'm feeling sick." Mary whispered. "I don't know what to do either. I'm feeling physically sick just by watching him stand within fifty feet of her. I don't know what's wrong. I don't fall for guys like him. I never feel so strongly about any guy so soon after realising he's attractive."
Mary knew why she was telling Sam this. It was because he was in the exact same position as her. Sam laughed darkly. "You have as much a chance with him as I do with Sue."
"Actually, less of chance." Mary replied. She liked the fact that there was someone else as miserable as she was. "I only have a chance with him if I'm reborn a cigarette in my next life."
He laughed once, shortly– in agreement. "Life sucks." He said.
Both their eyes fastened on the objects of their affections. "Fuck yeah." Mary replied. Without a word, she fell back into her seat beside Sam to keep him company in his misery.
"Hello?" Mary greeted the person on the other end of the line.
"Mary?" The distinctly male voice questioned.
"Yes. Who's this?" She asked in confusion.
"Sam Carter." He replied. There was a slightly awkward pause. "I got your number from Sue, I hope you don't mind."
Mary was surprised to be receiving a call from him. "No, that's okay." Another pause. "So, what's up?"
"Nothing much." He replied. Mary's lips quirked. "How's your summer been?"
"Tiring and a little boring." She replied, sitting down. "And yours?"
He sounded more exhausted than Mary. "Okay. Sue's been playing around with me for a bit, so I'm a little frustrated."
Mary nodded. The silence stretched on. "Listen, Sam." She suddenly said. "I know you didn't call to hear me breathe. Is something wrong? Do you need something?"
"Actually, there's something I want to ask you." Sam said, sounding a little sheepish. "And I'm trying to muster up the courage." Mary kept quiet. He took an audible deep breath. "Sue's having a small party the night after tomorrow. It's a sort of end-of-summer thing. It'll only be a couple of people at her house."
"Okay." Mary slowly said. "but what's that got to do with me?"
Sam took another deep breath. "I was wondering whether you want to come with me." He hesitantly asked.
To say that Mary was stunned was an understatement. Sam, one of the most popular boys in the school had just sort of asked her out. "As a date?" She blurted, unwittingly.
"Um," Sam hedged. "No, more as friends a bit of a buffer."
Mary was still shocked. "My parents won't let me go." She automatically said.
"Lie." Sam immediately supplied.
Mary's resolve hardened. "All right. I'll be there."
"Great." Sam enthusiastically. "Do you want me to pick you up? I can."
"It's cool." Mary dryly said. "I don't think my parents will believe any lie I come up with if a boy came to pick me up on his motorbike."
"Oh my fucking GOD!"
Sue's shriek near shattered Mary's eardrums. "Hey." Mary sheepishly replied.
She was at Sue's house, with the girl in question staring at her with wide eyes. "What did you do?" She demanded shrilly.
Mary looked down at her attire. "Is it that bad?" She quietly asked.
"No, no." She hurriedly said, immediately backtracking. "It was just surprising, that's all."
That was probably an understatement. Mary knew that most people would call her crazy. To distract herself over the summer, she'd gone crazy. She'd lost a lot of weight and while she had gotten rid of her puppy fat, she hardly looked healthy. She had hacked off her long blonde hair to shoulder length.
"Oh." Mary murmured. The hot flame of embarrassment was on her cheeks.
Sue quietly stepped aside and let Mary in. Mary wondered what Sue was thinking. She didn't try making conversation as the two of them headed for the roof. Mary was the earliest one there. While Sue went to change, Mary sat on the roof and contemplated her change.
Everything she had done– from the cutting of the hair to the losing of the weight– was for Stephen and there was no doubt about that. It was obvious. But was there even any point? For all she knew, Sue and Stephen could have been going out and that was why Sam had called her.
Mary knew that she would never be able to summon up the necessary courage to speak to Stephen. She would just treat him the same as always, by not showing him the slightest attention. Maybe he would come to her. If she went to talk to him, people would guess. Then again, if she didn't, they would say she was playing hard to get. It was a lose-lose situation.
"Listen." Sue said, walking out onto the roof in a short skirt and a halter-top. Mary looked down at her black jeans, white long-sleeved shirt and the black short sleeved one that covered it. Sue was wearing less and yet, it was Mary who felt underdressed.
"Yeah?" Mary quietly asked.
Sue came to a stop in front of the other girl and knelt down, looking her right in the eye. "I don't get why you did this." She waved her hand at Mary's appearance.
"No reason." She lied, looking down.
There was a snort from Sue. "Scratch that." She said shortly. "I thought I'd let you explain, but you're clearly not going to admit it. Mary, you don't have to change for him. You should never have to change for a guy."
"It wasn't for him." Mary lied again. For some reason, she couldn't get the truth past the lump in her throat. Sue stared at Mary for a few seconds. Mary stared back, willing herself not to look away.
Finally, Sue sighed. "Whatever." She muttered, walking away.
Within the hour, the so-called 'small' party was in full swing. The house was crowded with people dancing, drinking and smoking. Laughter and conversation tried to dominate over the pulsing music, but failed miserably. People were dressed skimpily, pushed up against each other on the numerous dance floors, or on the fringes of the house.
Mary stood alone in a corner, looking around. She felt highly uncomfortable, never having been to a rave party like this before. She didn't know how to react to drunken guys asking her to dance and the girls giving her fake smiles and bitchy glares.
And to top it all off, she hadn't caught a single glance of Sam– who had asked her to come– or Stephen and his band of merry men.
Just as she thought of leaving and going home to revise her entire plan, Sue materialised in front of her. The other girl was sporting a beer bottle in one hand and a mobile in the other. "Hey!" She said. She seemed to have gotten over her irritation with Mary's appearance, because she smiled brightly. "They're here!"
"'They'?" Mary echoed.
"The guys!" Sue enthusiastically shouted back.
At that very moment, the door that led to the roof swung open and a bunch of about ten guys poured in. The party immediately erupted into yells. The group was balancing beer kegs among them and moved to set it down in one corner. A few bottles were removed and thrown around to the group, who immediately began guzzling down the lot.
Within moments, a table and chairs was set up near the kegs and the group of guys took their places. Some of them held cigarettes, others held joints and the sound from that table was almost raucous. Some of the guys had grabbed their girlfriends and the girls were either sitting at the table as well or were in the laps of the guys. Sue stood by and watched with an affectionate expression on her face.
Through it all, Mary could only tell herself to breathe in and out.
For the first time in two months, she was seeing Stephen again and she had to admit that nothing had changed. Even while making the changes to her body– all for him– she had hoped that when she saw him again, she would be over him.
She could see that he wasn't any better looking than usual, but for his curly hair being a little longer. But the point was that he was wearing a sleeveless shirt again, with black jeans. The diamond in his left ear glinted, his teeth flashed. His hi-tech phone was on the table in front of him, next to the beer bottle. One of his hands held a cigarette. There was still something about him that she couldn't resist. Especially the image he was portraying.
"Come on!" Sue declared, seizing Mary's hand and beginning to lead her in the direction of the table of boys.
Mary halted, tore her hand from Sue's grip and stared at the girl. "Are you crazy?" She demanded.
"Why?" Sue asked blankly.
"I can't talk to him!" Mary hissed. "He's– he's– he's Stephen!" She whispered his name so low that she knew even Sue couldn't hear it.
"Shut up." Sue said, rolling her eyes and taking Mary's hand again and forcefully pulling her. No matter how hard she tried, Mary couldn't break the grip and she realised that even while Sue was slightly drunk, she was extremely strong.
"SUE!" The table yelled, almost in a chorus. Mary registered that they were already drunk and high.
"HEY!" Sue yelled back. Some of the guys ambled to their feet to hug her and sloppily kiss her mouth. The girls exchanged kisses on the cheeks.
Finally, Sue came to Sam. His eyes were dark and glazed. When he saw her, a slow smirk spread across his face. He didn't move from his seat and only took a drag of his cigarette, followed by a pull of beer before looking at her. She leant down and her hair covered their faces, leaving no doubt to what they were doing behind the curtain.
Some of the guys hooted, and the couple quickly broke apart, Sue smiling as though she hadn't been close to having sex with Sam right in front of them. "Mary, sit down!" She enthused.
That drew everyone's attention to Mary. They all stared at her. She couldn't speak; her mouth was dry and her throat closed. It was taking all her willpower to keep her eyes from looking at Stephen.
"Mary?" Sam incredulously repeated.
She cleared her throat. "Hey." She said, the word still coming out raspy.
Now that she'd acknowledged who she was, everyone at the table stared at her. "Motherfucking Jesus." Sam breathed, staring at Mary. "What happened?"
Feeling more self-conscious than ever before, Mary squirmed a little. "Just wanted a change." She mumbled. Despite the proximity of Stephen, she wanted to turn and run. She couldn't look at him and she knew things would have been better if she'd just watched him from afar. This whole thing had been a horrible idea.
She was trying to come up with a way to escape, when Sue again urged Mary to sit down. "Um," Mary hedged. "I don't know. I think I'll go–"
"Fuck that." Sam declared, his eyes were shining and were still fixed on Mary. "Sit. Have a beer or a smoke or something."
Mary stared. Then, one by one, the others tried cajoling her to sit. Her hands were shaking as she nodded and glanced around for a seat. Sam rose to get her a chair and everyone pushed over to give her space. She was glad that they didn't expect her to sit in one of the guys' laps.
It was only after she sat down did she realise that she was between Sam and Stephen. Stephen was not looking at her, choosing instead to speak to the person on his other side. Sam struck up a conversation with Mary, drawing her attention away. She sat there for the majority of the party, just chatting with Sam while she felt the heat radiating off Stephen.
Sue got irritated with Mary for talking to her 'boyfriend' and with Sam for not talking to her. As a result, she flirtatiously dragged Stephen away from the table to dance. The entire table followed them, with even Sam taking Mary's hand and leading her onto the floor. They made a huge group in the centre, with the girls hugging their guys and the guys grinding against them. It was a bit uncomfortable for Mary with Sam, but he didn't push her at all, knowing about her obvious crush on Stephen and remembering his girlfriend, who could very well be Mary's best friend.
But then, Sam began to lose himself. He had smoked quite a few joints and drunk more than the appropriate number of beer bottles. He was making things between them more intense. Mary began hyperventilating. It was because of a mixture of the idea of getting close to anyone and the thought of it being with anyone but Stephen. It was just wrong.
For that reason, she was devoutly thankful when Sue finally sauntered over. Her face was composed but her eyes were clearly wild with jealousy. "Sam, baby." She purred, pushing herself closer to Sam and completely ignoring Mary's presence.
Mary wasn't much offended. She knew that Sue was just threatened, and for good reason too, so she didn't grudge her best friend. "Hey." Sam said, eyes still hooked on Mary's.
"Dance with me." Sue commanded. She left no room for argument, causing Sam to sigh and break away obligingly from Mary, who breathed an inaudible sigh of relief.
"Sorry, Mary." He apologetically said.
Mary smiled tightly. "It's cool." She replied. Her mind was whirring with the possibilities of how to escape from the party. She'd had enough. She'd just tell her parents that she didn't feel like spending the night over at Sue's. She couldn't take this anymore.
She was hurrying from the dance floor when she saw him. Stephen was sitting in his place at the table again, surprisingly alone. There were a few more empty beer bottles in front of him and more cigarette butts. A joint now occupied his hand.
Mary's legs switched direction without her permission. They began moving towards him, as she watched the way he jiggled his leg under the table. He took a drag from the joint. Mary stopped beside the table. He didn't notice her. Quietly, she took a seat, a few places down from him. She didn't want him to feel obligated to speak to her.
When she sat down, his eyes flickered to her and recognition flashed in his bloodshot eyes. "Mary, right?" He asked, voice hoarse from all the smoking.
Mary's heart went into overdrive. "Yeah." She said, her own voice almost as bad as his.
"I'm Stephen." He replied.
"I know." She said. Silence fell between them. Mary looked away, wondering how to leave without seeming rude. It was almost painful to look at him.
Stephen suddenly spoke up again. "Nice look." He commented. Mary turned to see him eyeing her. "Different from before."
"Felt like a change." Mary repeated, a flush hot on her cheeks and her heart thumping out an irregular beat.
He nodded knowledgably. "Want one?" He asked, holding out a bottle of beer.
She was terrified right out of her skin as she said, "If I can have a pull of that right after." She pointed to the joint in his hand.
For a moment, he looked stunned. Then, a slow smile spread across his face. He nodded. "C'mere." He beckoned. Her legs almost slipped out from under her as she moved to the seat beside him. "Here." He handed the bottle to her.
She took it, hands steady. She wasn't scared of the drinking. She had known that it was a part of her school's culture and she would have to indulge in a bottle or two at some point of time or the other. But her preparation didn't change the fact when she threw back a mouthful, it burned her throat and caused her to splutter and spit. Stephen laughed hoarsely beside her and she flushed before taking another mouthful. It burned its way down her throat, but she didn't make a sound. She finished the bottle in minutes.
Then, his eyes focused on her, still glazed. Without a word, he held out his new joint to her. He gave her a few instructions on how to take a drag and she listened.
In all honestly, Mary had no clue what she was doing. All she knew was that when she had agreed to do a joint, Stephen had smiled at her. That was really all that mattered. Besides, the pot would help her relax and ease the fear that was welling. She was so terrified of this. Her hands visibly shook as she put the joint between her lips and took a drag, like he'd instructed her. Within milliseconds, she was coughing, her throat burning in a way she hadn't thought possible. The sickly sweet smell of the drug filled her nose and reminded how much she hated it. But she determinedly took another drag.
A few drags later, Stephen laughed and took it away, finishing it up quickly. Mary stared.
She felt sluggish, but everything was so beautiful. The music was pulsing and she could almost see the sound waves in the air. The laughter and babble of chatter sounded brilliant. The colours were brighter and the lights blinding. Stephen looked even more stunning through the haze. He was grinning at her and saying something. It took a few seconds for the sound to come through the haze and even then, it was distorted.
Without a word, she took his hand and got to her feet. The two only took a few steps before they stumbled and fell against each other. His arm wound around her waist and squeezed. They both laughed, hers coming out in a giggle. By the time they reached the dance floor, they were in hysterics and Stephen's hand was hot against the skin of her back, having slid under her shirt.
The two of them just instinctively, sloppily moved against each other. Mary ducked her head into the crook of his neck, loving the smell of his cologne that mixed with the alcohol, cigarette smoke and pot. His face as buried her in her hair and his hand moving in laconic circles. Spurred on by her intoxication and forgetting herself, she dropped an open mouthed kiss on his neck. He shuddered, leaned back and looked at her. For a moment, they just looked at each other. Then, he leaned down and kissed her.
Nothing came out of that kiss.
Mary didn't remember it clearly enough the next day to push it and Stephen didn't say a word about it. In fact, while Mary obsessed over the hazy details every night before going to sleep, she was convinced that Stephen had kissed too many girls while drunk and high to remember her.
Or at least, that was the way it was until the day school opened, about a week after the party.
It was four in the morning, and Mary was sitting on her roof. No one else was awake yet, but she had been unable to sleep and had rationalised that while she was awake, she could watch the sunrise– something she hadn't done in ages. The sky was dark outside and the sun probably wouldn't rise for another hour and a half. But the stinging wind was cool on her face. She was thinking of Stephen again, as usual.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she started and looked around, instinctively when she heard someone call, "Mary!" A few seconds later, the voice came again. "Mary!" The hiss of her name came from below. When she looked down, she nearly fell off the roof.
Stephen was standing below, in the shivering cold, his Zippo consuming fuel as it lit up his face. "Stephen?" She called back and her voice carried in the still night.
"C'mere." He ordered.
She didn't try and stop herself from scrambling back inside the house. Rational thought did force her to don slippers though and put on a bathrobe over her pyjama bottoms and sweater. She hurried down the stairs, taking care not to make a sound.
Once outside, she moved to the side where he'd been standing. She flashed the torch at him and stopped still in her tracks. He was wearing his jersey shorts and the same sleeveless shirt he'd worn on that fateful day on the beach. The attire– while aesthetically pleasing– was unsuited to the early morning weather.
Neither of them moved any closer. He looked at her. "Stephen, what's wrong?" She murmured. "Do you need something?"
He shook his head. "I need psychiatric help." He said seriously. "I probably should let you know what you're getting into before you do. I can promise you right now that I won't stop drinking, smoking, or drugging. I won't stop driving drunk, nor will I study any harder. I probably won't go anywhere in life and I'll never deserve you. I'm not perfect, Mary, not even close. But my redeeming factor is that I'm standing here, at four in the fucking morning, in my shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt because I know you like my arms. And all of me, for that matter. And I want you to know that I like your rack... and your ass, your smile, your legs and your hair, too."
For a few moments, there was dead silence. Mary couldn't speak. Stephen had only one more thing to say. "Be my girlfriend, Mary."
Mary was too speechless to be able to verbally reassure him. So, she took long, hurried steps forward until she was enveloped in his willing embrace. She held him tight to her, loving the way they felt against each other. She couldn't believe that she was Stephen Wright's girlfriend. She kissed his neck repeatedly, finally dropping a lingering open mouth kiss against the skin.
He leaned back and his voice was throaty from desire and rough from his smoking. "This seems familiar."
"I don't want you to change for me." Mary murmured, tipping her head back to look at him. "You are perfect… to me."
"I won't." He teased. He looked at her seriously. "Did you change for me?"
"Only because I wanted to… and for the better." She reassured him.
He smiled. "That's acceptable then." He replied. He leaned down and kissed her. He broke away a few seconds later. "Wanna go for a ride?" He gestured to the beat-up motorbike at the curb.
"Are you drunk?" She asked first.
"No." He replied.
She shook her head. "We'll have to fix that, then." She replied with a smile.
He laughed, then as an afterthought, asked, "Did you really fall for my arms?"
She flushed. "You would too." She defended. She raised her hands to rest on those impressive biceps. "See?" She murmured. "They're completely drool-worthy."
"Mm." He replied. "That they are." He watched her fingers stroke his flexing muscles for a few moments and then, completely solemnly asked. "Wanna make out some more?"
"Wouldn't have it any other way." She immediately replied, shooting him a small smile and a wink. And when he smiled his brilliant grin in retaliation, she couldn't help but kiss him, allowing her fingernails to dig into his arms.
From then on, plain old Mary became Stephen's Mary.
It came as surprise to all those who hadn't been at the party or who had left before she had gone to sit next to him. People wondered about Sue, but no one asked. Not Mary. Not Sam.
Mary went to parties now and every time, she wore less and less, but always black. She drank and smoked and did drugs. She laughed when the sober told her not to let Stephen drive his bike while intoxicated. She cried when he crashed and tore the skin off his arm, ignoring her own mangled leg. She lied when her parents asked her what happened. She carved things into tables and carried around a blade for Stephen.
She didn't quite know what she was doing. All she knew was that she loved him with every fibre in her body and soul. And he loved his alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Therefore, she had to indirectly love them too. And she did.
She knew that most people didn't even recognise her anymore, but she couldn't care. She got to hold Stephen's hand and touch him. She could get jealous when he spoke to other girls and she could make him jealous. He kissed her whenever he wanted to and always looked out for her. In the end, that was all that mattered.
Which was why she was extremely pissed off when, one by one, every teacher called her in to discuss her 'falling grades'. Mary listened to every lecture with false, polite sincerity and afterward, she went and got smashed with Stephen and his friends.
The lifestyle suited Mary just fine.
It was a month into school and Mary's relationship with Stephen. The two were at another party with their friends, this time, at a club. They were all in a private booth and the owners had kindly turned their eyes away from the drugs that the obviously under aged group was consuming.
Stephen was huddled in the corner of the booth, with Mary cuddling against him. One of his arms was around her shoulders, holding her into his side and subconsciously fiddling with the ends of her hair. His other hand flicked a Zippo open and shut, repeatedly. Mary took a drag of the cigarette in her mouth. She was not addicted yet, but she couldn't be far off seeing as how she always smoked when she was with Stephen.
"Here." He said. He almost seemed to sense when she was uncomfortable. His fingers abandoned her hair and nimbly plucked the cigarette from her lips, finishing it off in a few quick drags. She loved how he never pushed her beyond what she wanted to do.
A few minutes later, he decided he wanted a joint. Mary could see his desire by the way his hand was tugging harder on her hair and the way his foot was jiggling. She quietly picked up a rolled joint and handed it to him. He didn't break the conversation he was having with Sam, but a small smile appeared on his face. Mary smiled in return. He flicked his Zippo open and drew her closer to him. She buried her head in his neck as he lit his joint and took a drag. He let her go and she leaned back, the hand around her neck now held the lit joint.
It took a long time for him to get high. Because of his repeated use of the drugs, he had become slightly immune to the after effects and it took longer to reach that level of satiation. But he was adamant about not doing stronger drugs and she was thankful for that.
But once he was high, there was no stopping him. He broke off his conversation mid-sentence to kiss her and didn't stop after that. At first, Mary had been self-conscious about kissing in front of his friends, but he could do such amazing things with his mouth that now, he could make her forget.
"Come on." He said hoarsely to her when they broke away. She dutifully got to her feet and followed him to the passageway leading to the bathrooms. In the dimly lit hallway, he pressed her up against the wall and kissed her again. She lost herself in the sweet smell, taste… feel of him.
Without realising what she was doing, she murmured, "I love you, Stephen."
He wrenched away from her. His glazed eyes registered understanding. She bit her lip to stop the automatic words from slipping out. He wasn't far gone enough to believe her if she said she was drunk or high; or if she said she was joking. He would only realise that she was lying to him.
He didn't say a word. The sentence slipped out again. "I love you."
This time, the reaction didn't take as long. He looked at her steadily. Without breaking their locked gazes, he straightened out the clothes she'd messed up, took a step back and smoothed down his hair. His hand caught his Zippo again and fiddled with it. "Okay." He said.
And he walked away.
Mary stood there, stunned for a minute. Her heart began racing the way it did when he kissed her, or held her, or touched her, or just when she looked at him. But this time, it was not lust or love fuelling the jerky movement. It was pure, undiluted fear.
She took desperate deep breaths to regulate her breathing and heart rate. It didn't work. She fixed her expression into a polite, unfazed mask and headed out. She had to find him and explain, even if it was to only lie to him.
But when she got to the main club and scanned the area for him, she didn't see him anywhere. She rationalised that maybe he'd just gone outside to have a smoke and contemplate things. That was all. He'd come up with an answer, come back to her and everything would be fine.
Mary made her way back to the table, where more people were sitting. She sat down and ignored Sam when he tried to strike up a conversation with her. She took a few draughts of beer and allowed her mind to race, coming up with worst-case scenarios.
He could dump her. After all, Stephen Wright didn't do 'love'. He was in it for the chase, for the making out, sometimes for the sex, for the companionship. He never let things get serious because he was almost physically incapable of keeping a girlfriend long enough. In fact, his relationship with Mary was one of the longest ones he'd ever sustained.
After a while, it got too much for her. She looked at the table as a whole. "Hey, did you guys see where Stephen went?" She asked, wondering whether he'd slipped past her while she was absorbed in her nightmare.
"Yeah." Someone said. "I saw him heading towards the bathroom. He was with Sue."
Mary's breath caught. Her eyes flew up and connected with Sam's. Everyone at the table exchanged looks. Without a word, Mary stumbled to her feet and without caring what it looked like, she all but ran for the bathroom. Sam was on her heels.
He reached the boys' bathroom first. He entered and exited just moments later, confirming that they weren't in there. Mary calmed down a bit as she headed for the girls' bathroom. It would all be okay.
Still, her hands were shaking when she reached the girls' bathroom. She didn't bother knocking. Instead, she pushed open the door. It wasn't even locked. Both Sam and Mary froze in the doorway.
On the other side of the bathroom, Stephen had Sue pushed up against a wall, in the same position that Mary and Stephen had been in earlier. They didn't notice the entry. Mary quietly stared for a few moments, waiting for Stephen to push Sue away, like in the movies, and tell her that he had a girlfriend. Instead, his hand crept under her shirt, higher than Mary had ever let him go. Behind her, Sam was breathing heavily. She blindly reached out behind her and gripped his hand tightly in hers, warning him not to do anything rash. He was shaking.
The couple still didn't break away. Mary noticed the blade in Sue's hand, the one that was dangerously close to Stephen's beautiful face. She couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't tear her eyes off of them as she began moving backwards, taking Sam with her. He tried resisting her, but when he realised that he would have to hurt her to break free, he willingly backed up.
And still, through it all, Stephen's lips remained against Sue's.
When they made it out of the bathroom hallway, Sam took charge. Mary could hardly move because she was so shell-shocked. She couldn't make any excuses for Stephen, because he'd always been very conscious about his actions before, even while drunk and high.
"Come on." Sam muttered, dragging her away. Outside, no one commented, having guessed what had happened.
Sam led Mary to his bike. The two of them sat on it, not looking at each other. Mary knew it wasn't wise for him to drive at that moment. She wondered whether he could feel the same stabs, the white-hot flashes of pain that she was feeling. It felt like someone had branded her.
"I love her." Sam spat suddenly, shattering the silence. Mary took a deep breath and tried to push past the haze of pain to concentrate on his words. "She would never listen to me. I've been trying to tell her that I'm fucking crazy for her."
"Maybe that scared her." Mary replied after a length of silence. "It could scare anyone."
"He never liked you." Sam bitterly said, lashing out at Mary. His thunderous face told her that he was angry she was taking it all so rationally. "It was obvious that he did it all to make Sue jealous and make her his."
Mary took another shuddering deep breath. "Then, I'm happy for him." She choked out.
Sam laughed bitterly. "Oh, he's not happy and will never be. All he wants is the girl I have. I've been interested in Sue since the beginning of junior year, so Stephen had to like her too and try and seduce her. I was willing to let her go when I met you, so of course, he had to have you too. And now that you're his and I thought Sue was mine, he just had to prove me wrong. If I start dating you tonight, he'll come crawling back to you. Just wait and see."
Mary could see the way Sam's hands were shaking. "Sam, relax." Mary told him. "Please."
"Man, I'm so fucked up." He mirthlessly commented, seemingly not hearing her. "She's completely broken me and I'm still thinking about going back to her."
The thought hit too close home for comfort. "No, you're not crazy. You just love her." Mary managed to say.
Sam didn't speak. Instead, he buried his head in his hands. Mary slowly put her arms around him, pulling him into her and hugging him tightly. For a few moments, they just sat quietly, neither of them speaking.
After only a few moments, Sam looked up at her. "Do you–" he began, before hesitating and stopping. Mary just looked at him. He took a deep breath. "I've been wondering," he quietly said, "whether you wanted to give us– me and you– a chance."
Mary couldn't even smile. "You're a nice guy, Sam. But you know that you're doing it in the hopes that Stephen will come and take me back, leaving you with Sue. And I could never do it, even in pretence. Stephen meant– still means– the world to me."
Sam shook his head. "He doesn't deserve you." He murmured. "None of us do and we tainted you."
"It's more complicated than that." Mary corrected him. She was the one who didn't deserve Stephen. She straightened. "I'm not feeling too well. Do you think you can drop me home?"
For a moment, Sam didn't move. Then, he lightly kissed her throat. "Yeah." He replied. "I wanna get piss drunk anyway."
It took the entire silent bike ride home for Mary to realise that she'd never been in danger of getting addicted to the drugs, cigarettes or the alcohol. The only addictive substance that she'd been tempted by was Stephen and she knew that she'd already lost that battle since she'd looked at him properly for the first time on that beach.
Every minute stretched on now, feeling years long. It took every ounce of her self-control and willpower to breathe in and out and to not break down in tears. She could not concentrate on anything for too long, otherwise she started thinking of him. Her body craved the oblivion that alcohol and smoke brought.
The realisation was bitter. Most people would've expected things to get better if Stephen and Mary ever broke up. But she knew that they could only get worse. In many ways, Stephen had been what was keeping Mary from going overboard. He never let her consume too much and that helped.
But now, with no Stephen to regulate intake and with everything reminding her of him, Mary needed the dark bliss that intoxication brought. There would be nothing stopping her now. She could not remember that she had a different identity from before she'd met Stephen. Stephen's Mary became her and she could not separate that entity from plain old Mary.
Sam drove off immediately after dropping Mary home. She didn't know how, but she managed to suppress her tears while she made her excuses to her parents. She could see in their eyes that they didn't believe her anymore, that they didn't know what to do. In her room, she fell on the bed, without changing. As she lay there, she thought and tried to convince herself that it would all be okay. But it didn't work.
She started crying and couldn't stop.
She had to bite her lip to keep the sound inside, even as the tears overflowed. It wasn't her fault. He was just perfect. And sure, he'd hurt her but she'd take him back within a heartbeat. He wouldn't come to her though, he had Sue. She hated Sue. She hated herself. She could never hate Stephen.
How was she supposed to go to school everyday and see him? It would be torture. Everything had made a full circle again, what with Sue juggling both Sam and him. It would be like they had never gone out. He'd look the same and act the same too. And soon, her relationship with Stephen would just become another month in a long line of them. He'd forget all about her– if he hadn't already. Mary didn't know whether she would be able to stand it.
She loved him. Despite his physical flaws and the way he'd hurt her, she loved him. He could– would– never love her back.
And so, her hands shook as she reached for the bottle. The prescription suggested taking only one. She lost count of how many she put into her hands. As she filled the water, her hands became surprisingly steady. Now that she'd come up with a plan of action, the tears stopped.
She didn't pause to think whether what she was doing was stupid. How could it be stupid? If she couldn't live with Stephen, she didn't want to live at all. It was simple. Everyone would be shocked, her parents hurt, Sam disgusted. But Stephen wouldn't care. And that thought spurred her to swallow the pills… one by fucking one.
With her head swimming– she knew not whether it was an effect of the pills or of her decision– she lay down on her bed. There would be no need for a note. Everyone would understand when they saw Sue on Stephen's arm. She lay straight, on her back, perfectly still. Her mind raced.
And in the course of the night, when her heart slowed and finally stopped beating, Mary could be sure that she saw him. The way his lank hair was always plastered to his head, the unhealthy pallor of his skin, the dark circles under his eyes, the tint to his teeth, the blackness of his lips, the way he couldn't sit still, the bloodshot, baggy eyes, the malnourished thinness of his body…
She saw it all and something inside her smiled.
"I need a ride."
Sam stared at Stephen, not comprehending. The news was still swirling in his head. She was so stupid. So goddamn stupid. Every breath was a stab of pain. He shouldn't have left her alone. Stephen would murder him. "What?" He blankly asked, mind racing.
"I need a ride." Stephen impatiently repeated. "To Mary's house. I need to tell her something."
Sam's breath caught. For a few moments, he couldn't think. His vision swam. "Tell her what?" He heard his voice asking from a distance. His mouth was moving automatically, without the help of his heart.
Stephen groaned and rolled his eyes. "Nosy motherfucker." He muttered to himself. Then, loudly, he said, "That I'm crazy in love with her."
He couldn't stop the grin from spreading across his features as he heard the words. It felt strange, but in a good way. He had never loved anyone before. It was an exhilarating feeling. Mary's face filled his mind. He knew that she had seen him and Sue, but it wasn't too late. It was never too late when it came to how Mary felt about him. He just had to find her and get her to let him explain. It wouldn't be too difficult. Only good could come out of this.
Stephen hadn't seen tears in Sam's eyes for thirteen years, since he had pushed his best friend down so that he could get on the slide first. And he was horrified to see the tears now. His heart and stomach sank. This couldn't be a good sign.
"What?" He demanded. "What's wrong? Why're you looking at me like that?"
"You can't tell her." Sam hollowly said. "She's gone."
Stephen stared at him blankly. "What?" He repeated. "What do you mean 'gone'?"
"I mean gone." Sam snapped. "Sue just called. She heard from Mary's parents. Mary took a whole bottle of sleeping pills and they couldn't wake her up. You can't tell her anything, Stephen, because she's gone."
"But she can't be gone." Stephen blankly said, looking at Sam with shining eyes. He must have heard the words wrong. "How can she be gone? She doesn't know how to leave me. You're wrong. She can't– she won't leave me. I need her. Don't you get it? I love her."
A/N: As some people know, lately, my creativity well dried up and I couldn't write anything worthwhile. But then, I went on a class trip and it proved to be wonderful inspiration because I got to know the people in my class and, what do you know, they proved to be wonderful characters of a fucked up one-shot. The main characters– other than Mary– are an amalgamation of several different people I know of but haven't spoken to much.
No, I probably will not write a sequel or anything. Finding an ending that suited this was hard enough and when I did, it was perfect. You can imagine yourself about what you think happens to Stephen, Sam and Sue.
To clarify a few things: Sue was attracted to both Sam and Stephen because both of them were attracted to her. She is not really an evil person but is representative of a hormone-driven part that every teenage girl has. She wasn't in love with Sam, but she genuinely liked him. Probably more than she did Stephen. She made out with the latter because she was attracted to him. Also, Stephen's attraction to Mary was initially based partly in how she looked (slightly twisted), partly in her devotion to him and partly because Sam liked her. But then, things just sort of grew to a point where he liked her for her. Eventually, after making out with Sue, he realised that Sue was nothing to him except his best friend's girlfriend, who he coveted for the wrong reasons, and that he was really in love with Mary. I hope that clears that up.
Oh, and I love Mary's character. Sorry if you don't feel the same way.
Anyway, Because of the real-life inspiration that I drew, I'm not too sure of the story. So just review and leave me your thoughts, please. Thanks!