- One-shot -
She looked up from her pile of homework and smiled. "Hey Steven."
His lips curled upward in return. "Is Jade around?"
Melody's eyes drifted toward the staircase. "I think she's in her room?" she offered. "Did Sarah let you in?"
Sarah was her mother, but they were not a conventional family. Her parents believed in standing at equal footing with everyone, and insisted that their children call them by their first names.
"Yeah. She said, and I quote, 'Harmony is in the living room'. I don't think I can ever get used to calling her that." Steven laughed wryly, rubbing his neck.
Melody shrugged. "We both know Sarah and Peter are weird - they were hippies, and we were born when they were high on something or another. Is it any wonder they named us Harmony and Melody? And is it any wonder she prefers Jade, her middle name?"
Steven grinned. "I guess not. I guess I'll head up now." He walked out, only to immediately backtrack. "You know," he said, making her look up again, "imagine if you had a brother? He'd probably be named Bass or something."
"Peter told us they were thinking of naming their son Soprano. I'm grateful on my nonexistent brother's sake that they didn't have a boy."
Steven chuckled and walked out again with a wave. He was still laughing to himself when he pushed Harmony's door open. "Hey babe."
Harmony rolled over and sat up on the bed. "Good morning Steven."
He dropped down beside her. "It's 2pm, honey. Definitely not morning."
She slid down to place her head in his lap. "You only dropped us off at 3am. I'm still so tired - I don't know how you do it."
Steven brushed a hand over her hair. "Melody's up already too. She's doing her algebra homework - it looks kind of brutal."
"Melody's an early bird," Harmony said, snuggling into him. "She's so much like you, it's scary."
He frowned. "Did you see her last night at the party?"
Harmony froze at the concern in his voice and sat up. "For a little bit. I didn't see her much until it was time for us to leave. Why? What happened?"
"It's probably nothing," Steven said, but his voice was far from neutral.
"Whatever it is, tell me. Even if it's just your suspicions." She frowned when he remained quiet. "Steven, I'm her twin and your best friend - I'm not going to blow it out of proportion."
"I know you won't...it's just weird. When have you ever seen Melody take interest in a guy?"
The response was immediate. "Never."
"Exactly. Yesterday she was constantly following Gregory around."
Harmony paused in the middle of rolling her hair into a bun. "Melody hates Gregory."
"Exactly," he repeated. "So why was she always at his side? Maybe she likes him? One of those love/hate things..." Steven trailed off with another frown.
She snorted loudly. "That's bullcrap. Melody hates Gregory - and it's not one of those coy feelings either. You know her - she never takes things to heart, but if she does, then she rarely changes her mind."
Steven flopped back onto the bed. "That doesn't explain why she was with him. Unless she was trying to murder him?" His voice was immediately cheerful.
Harmony grinned and buried her face in his neck. "If Melody were to resort to murder, she would be much smarter and subtle about it. And, jeez, I can't believe we're trying to sic her with attempted murder." She pinched his side. "Now, aren't you going to ask what I was doing all night?"
"No," he immediately responded. "I really don't want to know."
She pinched him again. "Too bad! You're my best friend, so you have to hear it." Harmony sat up and looked down at him with a sly grin. "I was having sex with Charles."
Steven groaned and pulled a pillow over his head.
"Listen to me you bastard!" Harmony yanked away the pillow.
"Why? You're always having sex with him!" Steven complained. "He's your boyfriend - I don't care."
Harmony bared her teeth viciously. "You better care, because this time was different. Don't you want to know?"
"Too bad," she repeated, and then launched into her story.
Melody found him two hours later with his head on the kitchen table.
She grinned and patted his head. "Did Jade just give you a detailed description of last night?"
"Yes. Tell me again why I'm her best friend?"
"Because you love her," Melody responded. "Want breakfast? We have cereal and..." she opened the fridge and look in "...broccoli."
"Cereal and broccoli?" he demanded, finally lifting his head to stare at her.
She shrugged. "We have asparagus as well, but that's my breakfast."
Steven stared at her in speechlessness. "You know...I've never realized just how weird all of you are."
Melody grinned and pulled a box of waffles from the freezer. "I was kidding, Mr. Oblivious. Plain or chocolate?"
"Dumb question: chocolate."
She laid four waffles out, and then pulled open cupboards to find the toaster. When she found it, she realized it was on the top shelf - a foot or so out of her reach.
"What the hell?" she complained. "Who in their right mind puts a toaster on the top shelf?"
Steven grinned from his seat. "I thought we'd agreed your family is weird. Need help?"
"No, I plan on growing a foot in the next 30 seconds."
Taking that as a cry for help, he stood up and bumped her away with his hip. "Do you need help cooking them?" he asked as he put the toaster on the counter.
Melody bumped him right back. "Thanks for the offer - I definitely do not know how to load a toaster and push the oh-so-heavy lever down."
Just to spite her, he waited for her to drop the waffles into the toaster, and then grabbed her hand. "I'll show you," he murmured. "If you use your index and middle fingers," he curled her thumb and other two fingers into her palm, "and then gently and firmly press down on this lever right here..." he guided her fingers onto the white bar "...there. You're all set."
She closed her eyes and chuckled, leaning back into his body. "Thank you - you're a wonderful teacher."
"You're welcome." His fingers brushed against the bare skin of her midriff. "Who did you steal your clothes from - a grade two student?"
Melody pulled away, her eyes twinkling as she glanced down at herself. She was wearing old sweatpants, cut raggedly to stop shy of her knees, and there was an inch of skin visible in the area between where her tank-top ended and sweatpants began. "Actually, I think the pants are - were - yours."
Steven gaped at her and then tilted his head to get a better look at the pants. "Holy Christopher, they are mine!" he said, recognizing the logo of the basketball team he played on. "How'd you get your hands on them?"
She swatted at his chest. "You left it in my laundry hamper two days ago, hoping that I'd accidentally wash it for you - so the joke's on you mister!"
"What am I going to do now for sweats?" he wondered out loud.
Melody smiled at him innocently. "You could always wear mine - I'm sure you'd look hot in pink."
"Not as hot as you look in mine," he shot back, grinning as she turned red.
"Eat your goddamn breakfast." On cue, the timer sounded and the waffles popped up.
Melody briefly gritted her teeth before turning with a small smile on her face. "Hello Gregory. How are you?"
He ran his eyes down and up her body, settling briefly on her chest each time. "Good enough. Why didn't you call me yesterday?"
"I was busy," she responded, maintaining the smile. "Things were hectic at home and I couldn't find time to phone. Sorry."
His eyes narrowed. "Don't let it happen again. You still have 27 days left."
"I'm sorry," Melody repeated demurely, looking at her feet so he would not see the derision on her face.
"Whatever. Let's go to class." He grabbed her arm tightly and she turned to follow him - only to freeze at the sight of Steven watching her from a few feet away. "Why'd you stop?" Gregory demanded, shooting her an annoyed look.
He followed her gaze to Steven. "Yo man. What's up?"
Steven responded with a chin-lift. "Hey Melody."
Gregory looked at her. "Come on. If I'm late for class again, I won't be allowed to play in the next game."
Melody nodded, still looking at her feet. "Okay." She began to move with him, but a hand on her arm restrained her.
"Greg, can I have a word with Melody?" Steven did not move his hand.
"Whatever." The other boy let out a sound of frustration and released her arm. Melody's tense body immediately relaxed. "I'll see you at lunch, doll."
When he disappeared from view, Steven whirled on her. "What the hell are you doing with that bastard?" he demanded.
"You what, Melody? Just last week you were ready to, I believe it was, 'lay open his empty head with a power drill'...and now you're all peachy?"
She squared her shoulders. "Maybe I was wrong about him."
"You know better!" he shouted. "He's trash of the worst kind! He may be popular, but he's sleaze - you've said so yourself! And...what the fuck?" He grabbed her arm and brought it up. "He bruised your arm, Melody...what's going on here?" His eyes flashed as he took in the redness left where Gregory's hand had gripped her arm.
Melody yanked away her arm. "It's nothing, Steven. And even if something was up, it wouldn't be your business - you're Jade's best friend, not mine."
Steven took a step back as if stung. "I've always considered you as one of my closest friends, but I guess I have been - what was it you called me yesterday? Oh yeah, Mr. Oblivious. Sorry for assuming I had the right to care."
The apology almost came out of her mouth, but she forced it back. "I have to get to class," she said instead, taking the opportunity to escape.
"What the fuck is your problem?" Harmony demanded, slamming her palms on the kitchen table Melody was sitting at.
Sarah looked over with a frown. "You know, as a mother I'm probably supposed to reprimand you for your language." She then shrugged and went back to the eggplant she was chopping.
"Sarah, can we have a moment alone please?" Harmony asked, her eyes shooting daggers at Melody.
"Sure thing. Why don't you finish up here while you argue?" Sarah suggested, washing her hands. "It shouldn't take too long. Thanks honey."
Melody avoided eye contact with Harmony and instead watched Sarah leave the kitchen. "We definitely do have weird parents."
"Don't try to change the topic," Harmony snapped. "What bullcrap were you telling Steven this morning?"
Melody snorted. "Did he come crying to you? I told him not to delude himself into thinking we're friends."
Harmony had been headed to the cutting board to finish up the task she had been assigned, but decided that having a knife in hand probably wouldn't help the situation at all. She stopped and turned to her twin. "And, again, what kind of bullcrap is that? Steven's one of your closest friends - don't deny it."
Melody simply stared at her sister with a raised brow.
"Fine, let's go by the assumption that Steven isn't your friend. Where does Gregory come into this? You were with him this morning, you ate lunch with the bastard, he dropped you off after school. What the hell, Melody? I'm your twin - you can tell me what's going on in your mind."
Melody let her head drop into her hands. "I can't tell you, Jade...it's...no, I can't tell you."
"Are you in trouble?"
"No...no, not really. I'm trying to prevent any trouble."
Harmony took her sister's chin in her palm. "Tell me, Melody. I swear to you I won't tell anybody else - not even Steven. Do you want me worrying about you? Because I'm going to worry until I find out what's wrong..."
Melody took a shuddering breath. "It's Ming. He has stuff on her...pictures of them together, videos he took without her knowing...she's freaked out of her mind!"
"What do you mean? Why's she so freaked out?"
Melody rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms. "You know her family - they're Asian and ultra-conservative. Ming thought she was in love with him...he convinced her to have sex, and he has all the footage and is now blackmailing her."
Harmony dropped into the chair beside her sister. "That's horrible...but how did you get involved? Last time I checked, Ming was not exactly your best friend."
"We fought when she started dating him, she accused me of being jealous, and we stopped being friends...but she knows now that she was wrong, and she needs my help. I can't just let him screw her over like this - her parents would literally kill her if they find out!"
"So what exactly are you doing to help?"
Melody swallowed hard, her throat convulsing. "Gregory wants me," she whispered. "I'm his for a month. He said he'll give us all the footage if I adhere to his rules."
"You're sleeping with the bastard?" Harmony demanded in a rage. "What are you, stupid? I don't care what you say - Ming got herself into this mess without - heck, despite - your help, so she can get herself out without forcing you to whore yourself."
"It's not like that-"
"Isn't it? She had no qualms about leaving you and your friendship for a guy who has a developed reputation for being slimy - but all of a sudden she feels she has the right to jump back into your life and force you into a situation not of your doing?"
Melody stood up jerkily. "Don't define my friendship for me."
"She's not your friend-"
"-and neither is Steven to you!" Melody shot back harshly. "What, surprised?" she asked when Harmony stared at her, wide-eyed. "It's quite obvious Steven's in love with you - and has been for a while! You've been messing with his head for ages, while you romp around sleeping with whatever guy catches your eye. Fix your own issues before telling me what to do with my life!' She stalked out of the kitchen, wishing it had a door she could slam in anger.
Harmony stared after her sister, wondering how a simple offer of support had been blown out of proportion.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Steven demanded, staring at her in shock.
Harmony stared back in impatience. "Just answer my question. Are you in love with me?"
He stabbed his fork into the pasta he had been toying with and glared at her. "What are you, retarded? Not every guy who comes across you falls in love with you. How could you ask me that when I'm your best friend, and have been beside you through everything?"
She smiled at him. "Thanks, I was hoping you would say that."
Steven watched in disbelief as she started shoveling food into her mouth. "What's going on, Jade?"
"Nothing, I was just wondering."
He snorted. "We've been friends too long for you to try to pull the innocent act by me. What's really going on?"
Harmony shook her head. "No, it's nothing...just something Melody said that was nagging at me."
Steven's eyes narrowed. "Why, what did Melody say?"
"Steven, just forget it."
He never said her first name until he was dead serious, so she couldn't hold back the words. "She said I had to stop stringing you along, because you were in love with me."
"That's ridiculous." His eyes flashed.
Harmony reached over and placed a hand over his. "I know...I think she's just high-strung right now."
"She should know better!"
"I know," she repeated.
Steven pulled out his cellphone. "Where is she right now?"
"Steven..." Harmony said in warning.
He ignored her and hit the numbers on speed-dial. "Melody," he said, not waiting for her to say hello after the click indicated she had picked up.
"Where are you? We need to talk."
Melody paused. "I...I'm out."
"Where? I can pick you up or meet you halfway somewhere."
"I can't. I-"
"Who's that?" The voice on Melody's end of the line gradually grew louder, sounding as if the person was headed towards her.
Steven tensed, his fingers clenching his phone tightly. "Is that Gregory?" he ground out.
There was the sound of a scuffle. "Who's this?" Gregory demanded.
"It's Steven. Where's Melody?"
"Steven? Oh. She's here, but we're a little busy right now...can you call later?" If there was one person Gregory had an once of fear or respect for, it was Steven; he wasn't going to risk a fight with him.
"No, it can't wait," Steven said adamantly. "Give the phone to her."
"Sure..." Gregory trailed off. "It's for you," he said to Melody.
She took the phone, resisting the urge to point out that - seeing how it was her phone - it was obvious the call was for her. "Hello?"
"Did you not learn anything from our discussion the other day?" Steven whispered furiously. "What the hell are you doing with him?"
Melody's eyes darted to Gregory and then away. "Can we talk later? I'm on a date."
Steven resisted the urge to fling his phone across the room. "A date?" he shouted.
"Yes, a date. With Gregory, if you need further clarification. Goodbye Steven." She hung up before he could respond, and immediately turned the phone off. "So what now?" she asked Gregory, resigned to playing his pet for the day.
He was sitting on her bed when she dragged herself into her bedroom five hours later.
"What do you want?" she asked in irritation.
Steven could smell the faint traces of Gregory's cologne as she swept past him to grab a change of clothes. "What are you getting yourself into, Melody?"
She shot him another irritated look. "What part of 'none of your business' do you not understand?"
"Then why are you getting involved in my relationship with Jade?"
Melody froze, wondering what else Harmony had disclosed to him. "What are you talking about?" she asked tentatively.
"How could you think I'm in love with your sister?" he asked incredulously. "Are you insane?"
"It's not a giant leap," Melody responded dryly. "You're always around, always calling her 'babe', always cuddling her...you act more like a boyfriend to her than any of her actual boyfriends!"
Steven stood up and grasped her by the upper arms. "Listen to me: Jade is my best friend. I'm always around because that's what friends do, I call her 'babe' as an endearment, and I cuddle with her because she's a touchy-feely person and I don't see anything wrong with two friends acting that way. Believe me - it's love, but not the kind of love you're thinking of."
"You know...I really don't care," she said offhandedly.
He peered at her face contemplatively. "You know...I think you actually do." The truth was evident when her cheeks began to flush under his scrutiny. "You're jealous!" he exclaimed. "I can't believe I didn't realize it before!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," she muttered, ducking into the bathroom attached to her room. When she emerged a few minutes later, he was lying back on her bed with his eyes closed.
"Are you crushing on me, my dear?" Steven's lips curved up when she jolted and bumped into the table. His eyes remained closed. "Careful."
Melody glared at the boy on her bed. "I most definitely am not! Can you leave my room so I can get some homework done?"
"Sure." He stood up and headed for the door. "But," he added, turning to look at her grimly, "only if you tell me why you're hanging out with scum."
"He's not scum," she responded automatically, having gotten used to everyone saying the same thing. "Let's drop this topic, shall we?"
"You deserve better," Steven responded glumly. "I'm just trying to look out for you, like you tried to look out for your friend Ming when she started dating him."
Melody's eyes widened fractionally as she wondered if he had somehow guessed the reason behind her sudden liking to Gregory. The thought that Harmony may have told him passed her mind, but she immediately chased away the notion; she trusted her sister, no matter how much they bickered otherwise. "Ming was another story entirely," she said cautiously. "I'm not as naive as her, and I know Gregory has...feelings for me." Lust, to be exact.
"Lust?" Steven asked, as if reading her mind. "Sorry," he quickly added when her eyes widened again. "I just hope you know what you're doing...and that you don't get hurt. Let me know if you need any help - no matter what you think, I do consider you one of my closest friends, and I will go to great lengths for you."
When she looked a little gloomy at his words, he pulled her into his chest and engulfed her in his arms. "I know you don't really like him," he whispered into her hair. "Whatever you're trying to accomplish by hanging out with him...I hope it works, for your sake, and I hope you come out unscratched. I love you Melody."
She jerked back and stared up at him. "What?"
Steven ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "Horrible timing, huh? Well now it's out in the open: I love you." He let out a shaky laugh. "Just imagine how I felt this morning when Jade suddenly asked me if I loved her - I felt like sticking my head on a railway track, but luckily she was just asking because of the dumb suspicions you placed in her mind."
"You can't love me," Melody insisted adamantly. "That's not possible."
"Sure it is," he persisted.
She shook her head. "You've never showed it - you're just emotional or something right now!"
He snorted. "Never showed it? Let me recap the last two years of our lives for you. Valentine's Day two years ago, I got you a rose-"
"-because you didn't want to make me feel left out by only getting one for Jade," she interrupted.
Steven held up a finger. "That's what I told you, but the rose I gave you was red, while the one I gave Jade was yellow. Christmas two years ago, I got you a skirt with a print that matched my tie. And Valentine's Day this year-"
"-you gave Jade a Kit Kat bar, and me a box of Hershey's Kisses. Holy Christopher!"
He grinned at her using his phrase. "Glad you're finally catching on!"
"This is weird," Melody admitted after a pause. "I never thought you would think of me this way."
"Is that good or bad?"
Melody sighed. "Both. Bad, because the timing is horrible," she said, thinking of the situation with Gregory, "but good because I've been wondering what to do about my crush for some time." She held up a hand when he reached for her. "I don't love you, though," she added quickly. "It's just a tiny crush!"
"Don't worry, you'll fall soon enough. Hug?"
She couldn't resist his grin, and walked into his open arms, dropping her head on to his shoulder. "I need you to help me out," she said once she became comfortable. "It has to do with Gregory."
It wasn't hard to follow Gregory's movements, and it wasn't hard to track down the spot where he hid his blackmail images and videos. And it definitely wasn't hard to destroy all the material once they managed to get their hands on it.
Gregory's ego turned out to be his downfall, his brain having lost control of his mouth when Steven had casually brought up a discussion on their respective successes with the opposite gender.
With prompting, and a little bit of alcohol, his mouth was loosened even further, and the words kept pouring out. The entire confession was caught on tape, much to the shock and anger of Gregory when confronted with it the next day. Regardless, it was clear that he could do no further damage without risking his own figurative neck, and it came as no surprise to anyone when he dropped out of school shortly after the incident.
"You know," Melody said, cuddled against her new boyfriends chest, "Jade once accused me of something."
"What?" Steven asked, shooting Harmony a confused look. She returned it with a half-shrug before returning her attention to the movie cabinet.
Melody nuzzled his neck. "She shouted something about me sleeping with Gregory." She leaned back to see his face while she spoke. "I didn't do any such thing, Steven. All he wanted was to gloat to the world about how the girl who hated him - me - was suddenly his latest 'conquest'; I was only an arm-ornament to him."
"All he wanted was for you to hang out with him for a month?" Steven snorted. "Especially when you look like this?" He opened his mouth to speak seductively about her features, but stopped when Harmony let out a shriek of warning.
"Before you say a word, Steven, remember that I'm 99% identical to her and everything you say to her applies to me...and that'll just be weird for everyone involved."
Steven grinned and pulled Melody more tightly into him. "What's the other 1%?" he wanted to know.
The sisters gave each other sly looks. "You'll have to figure that out yourself," Harmony teased.
Melody winked at him. "She's right, you know - you do have the rest of our lives to do it!"
A/N: I...don't know. This is just one of those one-shots I mentioned in some other story; (to recap, I'm writing them as a means of procrastination). Please leave comments/pointers, because I feel this is definitely choppy work, but the last thing I want to do at the moment is spend time procrastinating over the work I did while procrastinating. (What the hell am I rambling about? Shut up, Rebekah, shut up!!!)
And while I'm on the topic of procrastination, here's a quote from the amazing Ellen DeGeneres: "Procrastination isn't the problem, it's the solution. So procrastinate now, don't put it off!"
Good luck to everyone sludging through finals! The end is nearrrrrr...