Stood Up

"Hey, Stevie, nice wheels, are they Porsches or Ferraris?" I pull to a stop in front of the hall, patting down my dark brown hair and rolling my eyes; Jeffrey Holloway and Martin Lucas are the biggest douche bags in the history of douche bags. I'm surprised they could even get a girl willing enough to go with them to the dance, but there's two pretty girls standing next to them just beaming at me.

If beaming is a synonym for 'glaring' that is. But who cares. I'm here and I'm ready to watch people dance all night and drink me some punch, possibly make out with my boyfriend when he arrives. I say possibly because our school kind of frowns upon the kissing at our dances; people generally just end up doing it anyway (or so I've heard).

I've never really been to a dance before but I decided I might want to check this one out – my boyfriend Emerson and I have never exactly been out on an official date even though we've been going out for two years. He never asked me, so I decided to ask him. Again.

I lean down and start unstrapping my rollerblades from my feet, trying not to move too quickly as I actually got my hair done. Well, not that this is an odd occurrence for me but I mean done done as in by a hair dresser. I got my make-up done too. I actually look like a girl, a pretty girl even. Maybe even more than pretty by the way those douches' eyes are –

Okay. Noted; do not bend over in anything of the strapless variety around teenage boys.

Quickly I pull them off and upright myself, dragging my backpack off of my back and shoving my skates in there, taking out my black pumps. I put them on using minimum time as every second that ticks by the douches' girlfriends get one degree pissier at me.

Straightening, I look up the steps, eyeing the ribbon laced rails and the big paper hearts and balloons warily. But my viewing of the novelty is interrupted by a high-pitched, whiny voice and I find myself being talked to by Jeffrey's date as she tightens her grip around his arm and hisses at me, "Going to the dance on roller skates? Classy."

"Going with Holloway to the Valentines dance? Classy." I wink at her and she huffs, her hands clenching and her nails digging into Jeffrey's arm.

"Jeffy, let's go inside; something smells like sweaty girl rollerblader." She stage whispers into his ear, her curly blonde hair bouncing as she speaks.

I roll my eyes and grab my wallet out of my backpack, searching around for my ticket before zipping it up and making my way up the stairs. I can see the bright disco lights from out here and I smile; may not feel like dancing, but the lights are fun to watch.

"Hey, skater chick," Joshua Gray winks at me, "you clean up good, now where's the pretty lady's ticket?"

Pressing my lips together I force a smile and hand it to him, not even bothering to stick around save him talking to me some more. Most of the guys, most anyone, aren't really worth talking to around my school.

At least none of the people who have tried to talk to me. Mostly comments about how I dress like a man which really is the best conversation starter. Luckily I don't care so much what people – who don't even know me – think or otherwise they'd have my skates shoved up their ass.

Or probably not seeing as I'm not really prone to violence but it's still kind of a fun thought don't you think? People always say it's the thought that counts. I think about it a lot.

The music fills the air and I swing my arms around idly as I look about the dark room, wondering where I should stand and wait for him. Probably at the door so he sees me right away and doesn't have to go around looking for me. Yeah I think I'll wait right here.

Oh no, no I won't. I think I see Lonely Girl coming towards me.

"Oh, good, you've come stag too," she beams at me, the lights catching her shiny braces and blinding me, preventing me from escaping, "I thought I was the only one. You know you should put your bag outside because if you bring it in here they take it away because they think you've got alcohol in it – ahaha!"

Closing my eyes and trying not to flinch from the sound of her laugh which is not dissimilar to the likes of Kitty Forman's, I reply politely, "Thanks for the tip, Clarissa, but I'm not stag."

Going back out I dump my bag with the rest of them and turn around in the hopes that she's left me alone. But she hasn't. She's tilting her head at me, looking concerned, "Oh, sweetie, do you really expect Emerson Fox to – well, you know, show up?"

I stare at her in incredulity, reminded of the reason she's nicknamed 'Lonely Girl'.

Obviously because she doesn't have any friends and not that I don't feel sorry for her for that but…she kind of brings it on herself, if you ask me. She carries detergent everywhere she goes because she's scared of germs; she's always picking people apart and for everyone's lack of interest in anything she decides to talk about – she makes up for that by doubling her own enthusiasm.

No matter what you say to her she will just not go away and if you insult her be ready for a mile long lecture on how much of an ass you are and how you should go about fixing it. Sometimes I wonder whether she's ever bothered trying to analyse her own problems. She'd probably be at it for an entire day and still not be finished.

"I mean, no offense or anything," she says, giving a shrug, "but it's not like he's got the best track record of doing that, you know, showing up."

Another thing about Clarissa Reid is that she's a sadistic witch with a capital B. Everything that spouts out her mouth, hurting other people's feelings in the process? She enjoys every minute of it. Because while her expression says sympathetic the glint in her eyes says ha-ha.

"Remember this year, when you threw that birthday party and invited everyone in our grade in the hopes that he'd show up and he didn't?" She supplies an example, her lips twitching in a very fake twinge for the pain she's causing me by mentioning it. "Not to mention every other time I've seen you sitting in the coffee shop by yourself or buying Christmas presents he'll never return."

At this point she reaches forward, touching my hand and giving my fingers a little squeeze, "It makes my heart break every time I see you disappointed, Stevie; please, please don't get your hopes up."

I blink at her, eyebrows furrowed and mouth poised to protest but with another pat on my hand she walks off to find another victim, leaving me with – and I'm shameful to say – a big fat load of doubt twisting my stomach into knots.

It's not that I don't love my boyfriend…because I do despite the fact I've never told him.

It's just she's right. He doesn't have the best track record, he never buys me presents and if I ask him to do something, anything…it's very unlikely that he'll show up for it. That is unless it has to do with the skate park, or anything like the skate park.

But that's not entirely his fault, most of the time save pressuring him into doing something he doesn't want to be doing I've gone at the end of it, "But you don't have to if you don't want to". It's just I never expected so many times that he wouldn't want to or that he'd forget all about it as the case is most of the time.

He's just like that guy off of Flubber; absent-minded. But he has a big, goofy heart to match his grin and kisses that are to die for. It's hard to stay mad at him when he gives you the puppy dog look and he's not playing either. He genuinely doesn't seem to know what he's done wrong.

But I told him he has to come tonight, so of course he'll show up, right? Right.

He hasn't shown. It's five to eleven and I've sent him about a hundred messages asking where the hell he is but he hasn't even responded. What's even worse is that every ten minutes Lonely Girl has come over to 'check up on me' and ninety-nine percent of the time it's accompanied by a bear hug filled with 'all her love'.

I can see her coming up to me right now and looking so happy I want to punch her in the face for it. I don't know what she's so happy about because no one's even asked her to dance all night. All that's been going on for her is her going from group to group and having them all excuse themselves to 'go to the bathroom'. Even the guys.

I've been asked to dance. I didn't dance, but I was still asked.

"Oh, look, there's my baby," Clarissa coos, her eyebrows furrowing inward as she envelopes me in her arms causing the overpowering smell of her perfume to invade and conquer my nostrils, "I told you he wouldn't come, sweetest – and did he come? Oh no, he didn't."

She means oh no, she didn't. How can she go around saying stuff like that?

"God, Lonely Girl," I push her arms away and glare at her; I'm cranky, I'm tired and I've been anxious and bored all night, so sue me if I'm a little intolerant, "do you have to rub crap in people's face all the time? Some people like being ignorant."

Before she can respond I head for the door where everyone else is heading, snatching up my bag and leaving the dance hall. I'm so pissed right now. I have to get out of here and home before I take it out on someone that doesn't deserve it, instead of my boyfriend who does.

Sighing and shaking my head, trying to shake my anger away, my eyes land on a guy in a tuxedo coming right for me on his skateboard. I nearly fall over my pumps in shock and glare at the unwelcome surprise. He has the nerve to show up here so late? Oh, is he going to regret it.

"Hey," Emerson says, stepping off of his skateboard and tucking it under his arm, "I'm a little late but do you like my new threads? I got them just for you."

His eyes, blue as the night sky above, twinkle down at me and he leans forward for a kiss.

I step back from him, glaring and pulling my pumps off of my feet and shoving them into my backpack, "Oh that's great, you know, Emerson. But you know what would have been even better?"

I pause for dramatic effect and he blinks back at me, both his mouth and eyes widening, "If you actually showed up on time instead of leaving me waiting in there for three hours."

"What? I thought you said it started at eleven," he said, dread starting to fill his voice and his eyes as he reaches for me in apology, "I'm so sorry Stevie, next time I'll remember it for sure."

I step away from his arms again and shake my head. I know he doesn't mean it but I'm growing tired of being disappointed all the time. It hurts. Shrugging and trying to seem unaffected, I inform him coolly, "Emerson, I don't know if you will and saying sorry doesn't fix everything."

"What else am I supposed to do?" He wants to know, letting his arms drop back down to his sides as I grab out my skates and pull them on, trying not to look at him. He touches my shoulder whilst I'm bent down and I flinch as his fingers squeeze around it. "What do you want me to do? I'll do anything."

I shake my head, strapping up my skates and zipping by backpack up fast as I can before chucking it back onto my shoulders. I give him a look before I speed off, "What's the point? You'll just forget that too."

It was supposed to be my dramatic exit line but do you think he lets that happen? No, he gets on his skateboard and follows right after me. "No, look, I know I'm an idiot alright but please don't be mad."

"Oh, right, then I'll just switch it all off," I mutter sarcastically, glaring ahead of me and stretching out my legs from side to side; trying to pay more attention to what I'm doing than to what he's saying, "oh look, I'm not mad anymore."

"Stevie, don't be like that," he groans, trying to catch up with me but failing because he's on a skateboard and I'm on rollerblades, "can't we talk about this?"

"I don't really feel like talking with you right now." I tell him honestly, thanking the gods that my house isn't that far away from the town hall. "So could you just leave me alone before I don't want to talk to you at all?"

"No." Emerson refuses, starting to sound kind of annoyed with me. "I want to get some sleep tonight and I won't be able to if you are still mad at me."

"Oh, so it's still all about you? Nice to know." I pull around the corner into my driveway and start to quickly take off my rollerblades so I can escape inside and lock the door behind me. I'm not quick enough though and just as I'm about to run barefoot up my porch and through the open front door, where my mum is standing waiting for me – he grabs my arm and pulls me back.

"Stop it, Stevie, seriously," He says, turning me around to face him and planting his hands down on my shoulders, "I'm sorry and I promise I won't let it happen it again."

"Let go of me and I promise I won't make you wish you were never born." I arch my eyebrows at him angrily. "How many times do you think you can say that before it loses all meaning? How many times do you think I'm just going to take this? I don't know if I can do it anymore."

Emerson's lips twitch downwards and he rubs my shoulders with his fingertips, he's almost begging, though he never begs, "You don't want to do this."

"Oh, I do." I shake his hands off, giving him one last look and not liking what I see in his eyes. I wish he looked happy about it because then I'd have an excuse to be angry. But he doesn't look happy, he looks the opposite. The sides of his lips are twitching further and further down and he turns his pained eyes away from mine, not being able to look at me any longer.

I can tell from the look of him he's got a lot more to say. But he doesn't say it and I'm sick of waiting for him to explain. He never explains properly, he never tells me what's really on his mind, so why would this time be any different? Squeezing my eyes shut I hug my skates to my chest and turn around.

I'm okay with this. It'll be better this way. It has to be. It can't get any worse.

I make my way over to my mum and the porch very quickly. Right now I just want to go inside, run a bath and soak in it for hours with a skate magazine.

"Are you two okay, honey?" My mum whispers, looking over my shoulder at Emerson with wide eyes. "Because your boyfriend isn't looking very good."

"No." I sigh, opening my eyes and walking inside. I dump my skates and backpack at the door and head right for the bathroom; maybe I'll just stay in there for the rest of my life and see how that works out.

Stepping out of the shower I flick water off of myself, sniffing the air and wincing. I smell like I've been dipped in a great big bowl of fruit salad and it's kind of overpowering. I guess that's my fault for staying in bed for three days straight, watching TV and playing video games with my little brother when he's around.

My mum called over my cousin to 'cheer me up' and she brought with her friends and a whole lot of hair and body products. Because she knows how much I love both of them.

Well that's a little harsh. It's not that her friends are awful, they are all really nice. I just don't want to be in their presence. Ever. I'm not one for spending hours upon hours in the bathroom every morning. I like being in my own presence, in my own dirty clothes with my own lack thereof makeup and good hair products.

Or in my friends' presence but seeing as all of my friends are friends of Emerson's…they happen to spend a lot of time with him and seeing as I am avoiding Emerson, hanging around them would be counterproductive. So I guess I'm stuck playing makeover with my cousin and her friends. Speaking of which, they're knocking on the bathroom door right now.

Sighing, I grab a towel and wrap it around myself, tying it together and unlocking the door. A whole heap of shiny haired, perfect skinned teenage girls rush at me and begin to push me out of there and into my room down the hall. I just let them. It's not wise to go against the grain.

Especially when the grain is wielding hair straighteners and things that look like they could be used to gouge my eyes out. Eyelash curlers, shudder.

When I get in my room though, what I find is not just my cousin, who is sitting on my bed, lip-gloss at the ready – but my boyfriend sitting in the middle of the room in a dress, his once messy blonde hair flattened down and pressing to his forehead. That's not all, either, he's wearing makeup. What the hell.

Emerson has full on pink lips, the same colour pink as the lip-gloss in my cousin's hand; when she hears footsteps she looks up at me and smiles guiltily. She knows not to let him in here. I told my mum, my little brother and my dad not to let him in here and they have managed. That's saying something considering my brother has a full on man crush on the guy. He even spit on his shoe before slamming the door.

Which I in equal parts felt satisfied and bad for. But my cousin? She should understand this better than any of them for God's sake. She's been through this and it's been quite a while since my mother has. She should know what it's like to not want to see a guy because he's acted like a jerk. She should not have let him in. She has broken both girl and cousin code.

"Melanie, what the hell did I say about letting him in here?" I groan, glaring at her, but she blinks back innocently like; I know what I've done, but if it gets me in less trouble I'll pretend I don't. I scowl at her and she winces.

"Oh, so what, you're not even going to talk to me?" Emerson glowers up at me for a second before his eyes bug and his face goes all red. He turns his head very quickly back around and his hands tighten around where they are on his knees, going all white and pale.

"Yes, why don't you go put some clothes on so we can all patch things up?" My cousin blinks at me furiously. I'm sorry, I'm sorry her blinking is saying.

Rolling my eyes I grab the clothes I'd left outside the bedroom to change into and go back in the pull them on. Much as I'd like to argue with him I guess it's not exactly playing fair to argue with him while I'm pretty much naked. Not that, you know, he'd care too much. Because what's a naked girl to a wooden board on wheels?

I come back into room, pointing at him, "Now that I'm dressed – get out. Oh, look, I'm done talking already."

Everyone in the room goes all wide-eyed, except for Emerson that is. He gets up off the floor and points a manicured finger at me, causing me to raise an eyebrow at him, "Look, no, that's not going to happen. The only reason they let me in here is because I let them play dress ups with me – I smell like a girl, I look like a girl and frankly your attitude is not making me feel any better."

"Because that's what I was trying so hard to do." I drawl sarcastically and he starts walking towards me, fists clenching together and tighter than before.

"I haven't seen you in four days, Stevie, where've you been?" He says, his voice getting softer now but I'm not letting myself fall for it. I've let that work on me too many times. It's time he learns that words aren't enough anymore.

"Work experience, now get out of here." I mutter, looking away from his angry eyes to glare at my cousin some more. Sure, maybe my work experience is strategically taken to avoid him but it is something I need crossed off my list. Though I haven't been doing much work – crafting picture frames for my mum to sell in her Photoshop whilst watching TV isn't exactly sweat inducing.

Either way my cousin doesn't need to let him in and show him how much nothing I've been doing in the time my school thinks I'm doing something. I could've just told him I'd been busy if I bumped into him and he'd more likely believe me then rather than now he's got solid proof against it.

But I don't want to see him. I don't want to talk. I'm not sure what I'm going to say. Sorry? I'm not sorry for ignoring him. He's always ignoring me, it's only payback. The only thing we're going to be doing is arguing.

"No, I'm not," he says and grabs my hand, something which I glare at him for, "we need to talk because our problems are not going to work themselves out."

I shake his hands off, simultaneously shrugging my shoulders, "Maybe I don't want them too, you know, maybe I'm sick and tired of waiting for you."

I can feel his eyes burning into the side of my face. But I'm not taking it back. I am sick and tired of waiting for him. I'm always waiting for him. It's about time I stopped putting up with it. It's not like he's going to change.

People don't change that easily and if he doesn't like me enough to want to spend time with me in places other than the skate park then maybe he just doesn't like me enough period.

I press my lips together at the thought and feel my heart clench. Pathetically enough I like him enough to go anywhere, anytime with him. I like him enough to pretend to be blind to his faults, to stick up for him with girls like Clarissa. I like him enough to have put up with this for so long.

But I'm smart enough to know better than this and right now? I've had enough.

Emerson sucks in his breath and everyone around the room blinks at him, waiting for his response, waiting for him to make a decision about the situation, "I know you are, alright, I know. But can you be rational with me please? Can you talk with me for just one second?"

Well. Fine. If he's so determined to talk, we'll talk. But not in here.

"Okay, outside, we'll talk," I force a smile, pointing out my window to the front lawn. "Let's go, right now. Where everyone can see you in your little dress."

"Fine." He agrees to my surprise and snagging my hand he drags me out of there, my cousin and her friends watching after us before running over to the window to spy. His hand tightens around mine as he leads me down the stairs and to the front door. He ushers me out and closes it behind us.

We walk over to the tree we usually make out under in front of our house and he turns around to face me; his eyes meeting mine and looking unreadable.

I press my lips together again, fighting back a gulp. This is great. It's time. Time for us to break up. Time for freedom.

"So let's get this over with," I say coolly, but on the inside feeling anything but cool, on the inside feeling the hot tears of the anticipation of things– one in particular – to come filling my eyes; tears I will not let come out for the life of me, "what do you want to talk about? The dance? Or one of the many other times I've asked you to go somewhere and you haven't showed? Maybe you want to tell me why?"

Shrugging, I smile and cross my arms over my chest as he looks back at me, his lips twitching downwards at my words, "Or not, we could just get this over with."

"Get what over with?" He wants to know, glaring at me and crossing his own arms over his chest. We exchange angry looks for a few more seconds before his face falls; he looks sad and tired. "I've missed you so much, you know? I went around, searching everywhere for you – the library, art room, auto room, lockers, canteen – and when I couldn't find you I just…I started all over again."

"Oh, please, like you did." I laugh, shaking my head at him. "If you missed my company that much it would mean you actually like spending time around me, something which I refuse to believe."

At this point Emerson's eyes bug out at me, nearly as wide as when I walked in wearing a towel if possible, "What? You think I don't like spending time with you? God, Stevie, are you an idiot or something?"

I blink at the insult, furrowing my brows and about to reprimand him for both it and for calling me by my first name but he holds up a hand, "No, Stevie, you don't get it at all and if you keep interrupting me with smart ass comments you're never going to. I do like spending time with you. So much. I'm always asking you over; always asking you to hang out and I spend so much time with you everyone else gets annoyed at me for it. But do you think that stops me?"

"It stops you, or something stops you, from going to things that actually matter to me." I snort, raising my eyebrows up at him. "Every time we hang it's always something to do with skating. Skating movies, new skating magazines, skating this, oh and don't forget skating that."

Emerson's brows furrow and he drops his arms, letting them hang loose at his sides as I glare at the grass at our feet. It's all brown, dry and yellow, tired of having no rain. Reminds me of me, tired for waiting for a stupid boy. He kicks the grass and it uproots out of the ground and starts rolling away in the wind, "But you like 'skating stuff'."

"I like chocolate too but do you think I want to eat it all of the time?" I point out, arching an eyebrow at him before my eyes crinkle and a tear of frustration starts to roll down my cheek. "We do the same things every day, every time, why won't you do the things with me that normal couples do? If that's even what we are considering from where I see it it's more like friends with benefits. Except, you know, friends remember other friends' birthdays!"

"I remembered your birthday." He argues, starting to look and sound very upset with me. I don't care, he can be upset. "And what are you talking about, friends with benefits? How can you even say that?"

"Then why didn't you come?" I want to know, starting to lose control over my own feelings and starting to sound a little more than upset myself. "Why do you never come?"

"Because you never told me to," he near shouts, "you're always talking about these parties, these things you plan and these places you want to go to but you never directly tell me to go to them."

"What the hell, are you mentally challenged Fox?" I demand, shouting back at him, dropping my arms and balling my hands into fists. "Who else would I be planning to go on them with, who the hell else? You never even get me a present, just a freaking text saying 'hpy bday' you don't even bother to write it properly!"

"Oh my GOD," he is full on yelling at me now, too, "it's not like you've ever gotten me a present either. I've seen no gift-wrapped goods on my birthday for God's sake – you and me spent that watching Stick It."

Correction; I spent that sitting there, listening to him complain about the movie and looking at my backpack. My backpack with the new skateboard I'd bought him, the skateboard that's sitting in the back of my wardrobe with all the other crap I've wimped out on giving him. It's just when I came over he didn't even make a big deal out of it. He didn't even thank me for saying happy birthday. He just shrugged and invited me inside.

How on earth are you supposed to give someone a present when they don't even want the happy birthday?

"I brought you a gift, Emerson." I shake my head at him, feeling my lips twitch downwards at the angry look on his face. "I just knew you didn't want it. Just like I knew you didn't want to come to the coffee shop, or to the movies and to lots of other places. I never told you to because if you didn't want to go I didn't want to make you; you'd resent me for it."

He looks startled and then his eyebrows arch up, "I'd never resent you for anything."

"Yes you would," I argue, pointing at him and shoving my finger into his pink dress covered chest, "anybody would resent someone forcing them to go to something they didn't want to go to."

"It not like I didn't want to go." He tells me, biting his lip and looking like he's holding back from telling me something.

"Then what is it like?" I want to know, looking at him exasperatedly.

He looks away and he doesn't answer. I feel my insides twisting and turning inside me and I feel so frustrated with him. How am I supposed to know what is going on when he never tells me what is going on? He never talks to me about anything that matters. He's always talking about stupid stuff, making everything into a joke.

I don't want to find out that our relationship is just a joke to him.

Emerson presses his hands to his head and rubs his temples, squeezing his eyes shut and letting out a frustrated moan, "I don't know, okay?"

He does know, though. I can tell by the way he says it. He knows exactly what it's like. He just doesn't want to enlighten me. What is wrong with us? Why doesn't he want to do special things together? What have I done?

"Emerson," I swallow, ignoring the big lurch my heart makes in anticipation of what I'm about to do, "Emerson; I think I'm going to break up with you."

He drops his hands and stares at me in disbelief. I don't blame him. I'm having trouble myself believing the words that just came right out of my mouth. But 'disbelief' is putting it lightly on his behalf. He looks like I just told him I ran over his dog (another thing along with his skateboard that he likes more than me).

"What?" His voice cracks right in the middle of him saying it and I set my jaw, giving him a little pat on the shoulders before rounding him and heading towards my front door.

"I guess I'll see you at school next week." I say weakly, gulping down my feelings that are about ready to burst out of me and explode all over him, the backyard and anything or anyone else within a hundred metre radios. Raising a hand I wave. "Bye."

"No." He shakes his head and starts after me, but he's interrupted by a couple of guys from school walking past and guffawing at us.

"Looks like Stevie dumped her girlfriend." One of them laughs, and the other snorts at the comment, encouraging the guy to wink at me. I realise, focusing on them, that it's the two douches from school. I frown at them and start walking even faster towards my front door.

Not that I'm able to escape Holloway going, "I've got two big strong shoulders for you to cry on if you want Stevie, that is if you're willing to dress the way you were the other night. It was hot."

Sighing, I make my way inside and slam the door on the lot of them; cringing and closing my eyes when I hear a faint, tired, "Stevie," from the other side of the door.

But it's too late. I'm done. We're done.

Mum made me go to school the next day after the breakup. She didn't think that what I was doing was really proper work experience and was feeling guilty letting me stay home under false pretences. My mum is such a saint and unluckily for me because now I have to spend the entire day dodging Emerson, who definitely still thinks – wrongly so – that we're still going out.

I know this because he keeps sending me texts with 'honey' and 'my skater girl' in them. I am not his honey and I am definitely not his skater girl anymore. I'm my own and from here on out he's going to have to get used to that. Because I'm not getting back together with him. Being with him is self-destructive.

"I don't know, she's got to be somewhere around here," I press myself flat against the wall, ducking my head a bit just in case you can see it through the leaves on top of the bush. Andy I can tell is warning me, he caught me about to sneak away to get some lunch before and since then I haven't moved an inch. "She didn't go home I saw her get lunch before."

"We have to talk, I don't know what to do," I hear Emerson complain, sounding frustrated, "she won't reply to my texts, calls, my emails and every time I bump into her she runs the other direction – and I do mean that literally, she runs away from me. Like a little girl."

I resent that. I do not run away like a little girl; I run away like a big girl who is sick of hearing the same dumb apologies. I'm sorry, like that is even original. I won't do it again, even less original and even less believable. He'll do it again. He's done it for so long that it's probably habit by now. He wouldn't be able to help it.

"Maybe you should just let her alone, man," Peter says, shaking his hand and looking directly at where I am with a smirk, "it's obvious she's so over you."

Peter Thompson is a dead man. I mean, so what if I'm not over Emerson just yet? I just dumped him yesterday and not because I was over him but because I was over the way he was treating me. It's human instinct; self preservation. I can't be blamed for being human.

Emerson looks at him, a scowl stretching across his lips, "Thompson, do you want me to kick your ass? Because I'd gladly do it. Emotions are running high right now and hell, I'm not beyond working them out of me with my fists."

"Bring it on, Fox," Peter smirks, "but for one thing I was being sarcastic, for another – if she was really over you she wouldn't be avoiding you. Say, you know, hiding behind bushes and trees and such."

Emerson blinks, and looks around while Andy glares at Peter, punching him in the shoulder; Andy is a great guy like that. "Em, you really should leave her alone. She is only going to get madder at you if you keep bugging her; you know she likes being left alone when she's angry. Figure something out, do something big. Show her you're worth listening to."

Peter snorts at this and Andy punches him in the arm again, "Andy, you are such a girl."

"Well," Emerson says, eyeing where I am pointedly, having caught Peter's hints, "better to think like a girl than an asshole who scares his girlfriend off. She doesn't understand. But she will."

All of them look away from where I've slowly been sliding down the wall and onto my butt, listening to them. I don't know what I'm supposed to have been understanding about him being an asshole. Something which he even admits he has been. How can anything make that better? Unless he has a really good reason for doing it. But then, what is a good reason?

Whatever. I'm sick of hiding anyway. He can find me, he can talk, he can do whatever he likes – but unless he finds that holy grail of a good reason then I am not going to listen.

Except when I didn't want to listen; I was forced to.

I look in front of me, skates on feet and hands on hips. Peter, Mark and Andy at Emerson's service; refusing to let me move past them and out of my driveway until I listen to what they have to say. Only I don't want to listen. I don't want to hear it. I don't want to be a part of any scheme he's come up with anymore and I am not going to cooperate.

But it looks like if I don't they are going to force me to because try as I might I'm not sure I can fight off three grown males. Especially ones I've seen do a hundred push-ups in a row without even breaking a sweat.

"Andy, wasn't it you who said that to keep on bugging me was only going to make me madder?" I want to know, lifting an eyebrow up at him. "Because if so doing this isn't a very good example of leaving me alone."

"Hey, hey, hey," Mark says, grinning his ever playful grin and smacking a hand down on Andy's back, "you really don't know how boring it is to hear Em go on about nothing but you for a whole day – anyone would crack, and Andy cracked last; be proud, little skater chick."

"Yeah," Peter slams his hand down on the other side of Andy, winking, "he's a champ."

I roll my eyes and look towards the fence on the far side of the driveway. Maybe if I get up some speed I can jump over it and be halfway down the street before they can stop me. But it's not looking very likely, I'm just outside my house and they've got me cornered. I'd have better luck beating them out of the way.

"Don't even think about it, Reynolds," Andy steps away from his friends and shakes his head, smiling apologetically, "and I didn't crack. That kid's been crazy about you before you even knew he existed. He used to watch you on those ramps as a young boy like any other young boy watched supermodels."

"Well, that's just swell," I mutter, not believing it in the slightest, "but you'd think if he was that obsessed with me he could have at least remembered my birthday once or twice."

"See, that's the thing," Peter smirks, "Emerson's a little scaredy cat when it comes to his feelings. He barely discusses them with Andy and they're BFFs."

"Look, Stevie," Andy walks up to me and places his hands down on my shoulders, "he's realised if he doesn't stop being a pansy he's going to lose you. Now, you're going to go down there or your Tony Hawk signature is being flushed. Because although I didn't exactly crack – I don't want to hear any more extended rants about 'that time when I saw down her shirt'."

I blink at him. My Tony Hawk signature? But wouldn't they have to get that in the first place to be able to threaten me with it?

"Here!" Mark says, winking, and I see a smudge of pink lipstick still left on his lips; my cousin, she let another boy in the house without my permission. I am seriously going to sit her down and have a long, deep and meaningful talk with her. She just doesn't understand the rules.

I eye the framed poster in his hand and glare over Andy's shoulder at him, but he just grins back at me like the idiot boy he is. Once Andy lets go of my shoulders I am going to let him have it. I'm going to let them all have it.

"Oh, threatening me are you?" I snort, shrugging the hands off of my shoulders and sliding back. I shake my head at them and give them all a pointed glare. "Well you can kiss my sweet ass because I'm not doing a thing you say."

Andy grabs me around the waist as I lunge for Mark, he tuts, "No, you're not going to get that back until you do, little skater chick."

"Get your hands off me," I kick at him but he doesn't let go of me, even though the wheels whacking into his shins have got to be hurting right now, "this is pathetic. He's the asshole. I'm the one being punished. It doesn't make sense to me."

"Me, me, me and I," Peter says, grabbing me by the arm and with Andy and Mark's help, dragging me onto his bike handlebars, handlebars which are really uncomfortable just by the way, "is that all you ever think about?"

I look down at him, struggling to get off his stupid red bike and making the bell ring in my attempts. Stupid, annoying bell. Peter smirks up at me as he gets on his bike and puts his hands either side of me, careful not to touch me, "What about me, Stevie, what about all three of us? I mean he may have done you wrong, but you have done us wrong by unleashing a whole world of Single Emerson hell on us.

In front of me, Andy turns my head around so he can face me, he's looking apologetic but not like he's going to stop what he's doing, "Sorry, but I swear, just listen to the guy, alright? If you don't like what you hear I'll make sure to never, ever bother you again about it."

"Kiss my ass." I growl at him and he rolls his eyes, patting me on the head and letting go of me at the same time as Mark does next to him.

"Sweetie, I'd love to, but that would end up in my getting my own ass kicked by an ex boyfriend of yours." Mark winks at me, stepping back from the bike and ushering at Peter dramatically. "Take her away, man."

Before I can jump off the bike Peter is peddling as fast as his long legs can peddle. I grab down on the handlebars, near falling over the other side of them and into his chest. He chuckles behind me and I look back at him once more to glare at him, seeing my friends waving at me in the background. Some friends they are.

"Are you trying to kill me?" I hiss at him, watching the houses speed by and watching Andy and Mark getting smaller and smaller in the distance. "It's kind of hard to stay on when you're going like a gazillion miles per hour. Not that I even want to stay on. I don't want to see him."

"Oh, yes you do." He shakes his head at me, smiling and looking over my shoulder to make sure he doesn't end up running into anything. "You're crazy about him, otherwise you'd be jumping off of this bike right now, injuries be damned."

"I'm not crazy about him." I mutter, turning my eyes to my knees and glaring at them. "Not anymore."

He doesn't say anything for the rest of the trip. I just sit on his handlebars, staring into space and wondering what Emerson is going to have to say for himself this time around.

I don't know what I'm doing. Letting Peter take me to his house and all. Like he said I can easily just jump off. I'm a skater chick; I'm used to jumping off of things.

I can jump off right now and it'll be all over. I won't have to see him. I can go right back to my house. I can give my cousin that lecture she's got coming and I can sit down and watch more episodes of That 70s Show.

It'll only take one second, one second and a possibly sprained ankle for the relief I will feel to be free again. I see his house getting closer and closer and bite my lip. Soon it'll be too late to go back, so why aren't I jumping?

Peter's bike slows to a stop at the front of Emerson's driveway and he speaks, not mockingly for once, but slowly and calmly. He's being serious.

"You said to him something akin to that you couldn't turn being mad off," He says and I look down at him, meeting his icy blue eyes and straightened lips, "you can't just turn your feelings off either, Stevie. I know it's not that simple. I know you still like him. I know that if you let him go you're going to regret it."

Hopping off the handlebars I turn my eyes to him, narrowing them and crossing my arms over my chest, "What is that, a threat?"

"No," he shakes his head, beginning to peddle off past me, "it's the truth."

He leaves me standing in the middle of the driveway. I sigh. He's right. I can pretend all I want but my feelings aren't going to go away. Still, my feelings aren't making me feel anything like backing down. No matter how much I like him I still don't want to go in there.

I eye his garage, seeing his figure pass by the window, carrying something large and cardboard-looking. He is so weird. I wonder what he's doing in there. The lights are all off and all but one of the blinds is closed. He's working in the dark again. I've told him time and time again that it's bad for his eyes but he keeps on doing it.

Figures he wouldn't listen to me.

"Oh, hi sweetie," I jump and near groan, spotting his next-door neighbour, who is conveniently Lonely Girl, "still not over him, are you?! I think it's for the best because just before he came out of there and he was all dusty, you know? He's not a very clean boy."

"I'm just getting something I left here." I lie to her, trying to get her off of my back. She's probably heard all about the breakup from my cousin, a fellow gossip lover. Although Lonely Girl doesn't generally go by the term 'gossip' she calls it 'checking in' to 'make sure I'm okay'. "So don't you worry about me, Clarissa."

I watch her, waiting for her to go back inside her house. I so wish she didn't live next door to him. She was always interrupting when Emerson and I tried to make out in front of his house before I went home. I don't know what she was doing watching us anyway. I bet it's because she's never gotten any action of her own. Although she swears she feels sorry for me whenever I've brought it up – who wants someone else's saliva in their mouth, gross?

Lonely Girl appears not to be inclined to move anytime soon, however, and she smiles at me; leaning her head down on her white picket fence and presenting me with a smile full of teeth just as white. "So, are you going to go in there, or what? If you're scared I could get it for you! I'm always willing to help out a friend and I'm not a coward or anything."

But you are is what she silently tacks in. Bringing a hand up to my hair and running a hand down it I near groan again, looking towards the garage. Great, just great. With her watching me, just waiting for me to back out and skate home – I have to go in there.

If I don't she's going to think I'm a wuss. I'm not a wuss.

"No, Clarissa," I say, starting to take slow strides towards the garage and feeling the dread rise up in my stomach as I do, "I think I've got this one covered."

"Do you have a limp, Stevie?" She wants to know, pointing at my feet. "Because you're skating kind of slow if you ask me. Do you have blisters because of your skates? You know you can take those things off, maybe wear pretty shoes. Maybe he'll pay more attention to you then."

I skate quicker towards the garage at her words. I don't want to start another conversation about Emerson again and she knows it. She relishes in it. Sighing, I dodge around his car and pull to a stop in front of the garage door, staring at it. I can hear him moving inside. He's still moving stuff around. I wonder if he'll hear me knock.

"You open the door by twisting the knob," Clarissa shouts out and I swing my head around to glare at her, incredulous; she's got her hands cupped around her mouth and she's leaning over her fence as far as she can to spy on me, "although if you're worried about what has been touching the doorhandle then I've got a handkerchief you can borrow!"

That girl does not know when to shut up.

In front of me Emerson's garage door opens and Emerson steps out, his eyes widening, "Stevie, what are you doing here? I mean, come in."

"Your friends made me come." I warn him, stepping into the room and about to lecture him – when I see a whole heap of balloons and hearts all around the room, some hanging from the ceiling off ribbons.

The garage is transformed. The walls are covered with glittery black paper, the floor covered with matching tiles. There are cardboard people everywhere, holding drinks, dancing and eating food together. On the other side of the room is a refreshment table covered in punch bowls and plates of chips.

My jaw drops and my eyes return to him. I point a finger towards the cardboard figures.

"What, what are they supposed to be?" I want to know, bemused.

Emerson goes slightly red in the face and crosses his arms over his chest defensively, "I know I'm not a very good drawer and I know they're lame and I was going to get rid of them all even though they took me a long time to cut out and – and you just got here, way too quick. But they're supposed to be the people that came to the valentines dance."

I look around at them again before double backing on him; he's wearing his suit. What is going on here? What kind of trick is he trying to pull? People from the dance, sparkly floor and walls, hearts and balloons – disco ball! My eyes widen as I blink up at the ceiling, staring at the disco ball. After a moment of staring it lights up and the door closes behind me.

Lights dance around the room and Emerson takes my hand. I look up at him and he smiles hesitantly down at me, "I know I missed the dance. I know I've missed a lot of things. I can't pretend I forgot about them because honestly, Stevie, I remember every word you say."

Blinking at him and furrowing my eyebrows I snort, "So what, you just decided not to come, that it wasn't worth it?"

"You have no idea," He shakes his head, reaching for my other hand and sounding half-amused half-pained, "how much that isn't true. It's the opposite," he looks right into my eyes, sending butterflies dancing around my stomach and chest, "because what happened with the forgetting, the avoiding…I didn't plan on it becoming a constant thing. I was just embarrassed."

"Embarrassed about what?" I lift an eyebrow up at him. "Spending time with me?"

"No," He shakes his head, lacing his fingers through mine and causing my traitor heart to skip a beat, "look, when I started going out with you it, well, kind of scared me how much I already liked you. I didn't want you to know because in my mind if you found out, you'd laugh at me and tell everyone."

I lift my eyebrows up at him incredulously, about to protest, but he shakes his head at me. "I know you wouldn't do that; I know. But because of my crazy fourteen year old mind that's what every situation I thought up concluded to. And I didn't want you to 'get the wrong idea' so I overcompensated, and then – then I just couldn't stop doing it."

Emerson frowns, looking away at this point and shaking his head, stammering, "I – I know it was a shitty thing to do and I felt bad and I wanted to say I was sorry but I didn't know how and it kept happening out of habit – and then I felt even worse. The more I avoided saying the one thing I knew I had to say," He shakes his head again, turning his eyes back to mine, "the more terrified I felt about it."

He looks at me, gulping. I stare back at him bemusedly. So he has been avoiding saying something to me? But what is it? I can't think of anything. Nothing important anyway. It's got to be something really bad.

Maybe I don't want to hear it…no, no I have to hear it. I won't be able to stop thinking about it until I do. I tilt my head at him, "What is it?"

Emerson fidgets around and before I know it he's grabbed me up and taken me in his arms, pressing his lips to my ear. I can feel his breath grow shallow and his cheeks warm up next to mine. I stare at the glittery paper over his shoulder in confusion; what is he going to say to me? It's really starting to bug me.

Has he cheated on me? Is that it? Because if that's it he's right for assuming I'm not going to take it well. I'm not going to forgive him if he's done that.

Trying to wriggle out of his grasp to meet his eyes and demand that he tell me what's going on, I'm interrupted when he whispers three little words into my ear; so quietly I'm not even sure I hear them right, "I love you."

"What?" I splutter, my cheeks going as red as a fire engine.

But then he pulls back and says it again, eyes looking right into mine, eyes and words sending my heart into frenzy, "I love you."

I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to talk. I didn't even want to be near him. But I'm glad that his friends, I'm glad that Lonely Girl, forced me to. Because those three words made my day; those three words made my year. Those three words made my life.

I look into his eyes as they stare cautiously back into my own, my throat swelling up, full of all the words I'm trying but failing to get out. But there's too many words, so many words. Yet they're all not enough to describe the way I'm feeling.

Instead I step up on my tiptoes, wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him. I love you too, my lips say back. I love you so much – but if you ever stand me up again I'm not going to forgive you.

He responds, kissing me over to the refreshment table and hitting the play button on his stereo, music filling the room. "I won't."


For the Breaking Up, Making Up Contest. Hope you guys like! Sorry I haven't updated in a bit. I was trying to write this and it was frustrating me. It's still frustrating me a little bit so if you think it's a little rushed just say what parts and I'll rewrite them before the contest is over! :P I need fresh eyes and my fresh eyes are lacking internet at the moment and I'm afraid talking it over to her on the phone is going to hurt my voice pretty badly. Also I've been writing this for two weeks, getting all frustrated and jazz. Time for someone else to get frustrated.

YOU KNOW WHAT IS CUTE? Ashton Kutcher. Yes. I read the gossip in the news section. Him and his wife Demi were having picture twitter flirting fights with each other. It was great. "Bed Time?" "4 Sure". Cute. Check it.

Anyway. I think I need to have a shower. I'm meeting my friend in two hours to exchange gifts and chill :D