A/N: I'm BAAAAAAAACK! And, as promised, I am here to finish this story but first, the old chapters require a rewrite as I realize the error in my younger ways and have some changes to be made. They won't be drastic BUT, it might be a nice refresher for people who have forgotten exactly what happened *raises hand*.
I have also been in hiding for school and the rest but I do have TWO partially written stories in the works but I am not ready to post anything until I am a little further ahead – don't want to leave people hanging for YEARS like I did with this story.
Chapter 1: Well..didn't see that coming
"So Kenny, what do you think?" The sound of my name broke my concentration and I looked up from where I'd been twirling pasta on my fork, a look of what had to have been utter stupidity plastered on my face.
"Huh?" I articulated back dumbly. I hadn't really been following the conversation between my brother, Joe, and his new wife of three months, Miranda. I had actually been going through the new rugby formations in my head and trying to memorize perfectly where I was supposed to run, as I'd been eating. Our coach had been rather brutal at practice that afternoon – the crisp frost of mid-March certainly didn't help – and I couldn't get his yelling voice out of my head. He'd been angry that no one could remember the close to five million plays he'd drawn up and, of course, when he'd said no one could do it, I took it as a challenge to be the first. And when a challenge was issued, I rarely ever passed it up.
"Are you really that hungry that you can't pay attention to the conversation?" My brother teased, scooping out his second bowl of pasta – I noted that I was already almost done my third – with a grin on his face. I made a face at him. It was his fault I was so into sports anyway. Seeing as I was raised by my then twenty-year-old brother since I was twelve, with no mother-figure at all, it was bound to rub off on me.
"Shut up, Joe," I shot back, scooping a copious amount of noodles in my mouth, relishing in the taste of Miranda's homemade sauce. That was one thing I loved about having a woman – and I mean an actual one who knows how to cook (not me) – in the house. I can't remember ever having eaten so well and even an easy dish like pasta tasted like a masterpiece. "This is really good by the way, Miranda," I said once I'd chewed and swallowed, giving her a smile. Her delicate face lit up under her white-blonde ringlets as she smiled back.
"I'm glad you appreciate it," she said, ornately twirling what had to be a single piece of spaghetti around a prong of her fork before sticking it in her mouth. I didn't understand how she could eat so slowly. I shoveled another scoop of spaghetti straight between my lips and chewed happily.
"Well, are you going to tell us what you think?" Joe interjected, looking at me expectantly. I mockingly looked back at him as I finished chewing.
"Think about what?" I asked, lifting my milk glass to my lips.
"Kennedy! Did you seriously not follow a word of our conversation?" He seemed incredulous. Which is his own stupidity; he should know by now what a space case I am.
"The hell if I know! What gave you the impression I was listening?" If he says I was nodding my head and saying 'mmhmm' then I officially dub him "idiot".
"You were nodding along in all the right places." There we go.
"You," I began, picking up the remaining pastas on my plate, "are actually insane. I mean, come on! You've known me my whole life and you still think nodding means I'm paying attention? Remember I told you I need to actually be looking at you and there has to be some sort of registration on my face for it to count as listening?" How quickly he forgets things.
"Well…it was kind of a sensitive topic. I thought that if you lowered your eyes and maybe didn't look at me…it was natural." His voice grew kind of quiet and I put my fork down. Obviously this was serious.
"Okay, I promise I'm listening now. What is this 'sensitive topic'?" He cleared his throat and shifted a little on his seat. Miranda put out one of her tiny hands and rested it supportively on his shoulder. I secretly felt a small pang of jealousy and hoped I could find someone someday who would treat me like that – in male form of course. Unfortunately for me, I would actually have to make a guy fall for me. Seeing as I'd never had a boyfriend before, that could prove problematic.
"Well, you know how they opened that new engineering firm in Regina?" I ran my tongue over my teeth absentmindedly as I racked my memory. I vaguely remember something about a biomedical engineering establishment that was working on prosthetic limb design – my brother's second passion after contact sports – in our province's capital.
"Yeah," I said slowly. "You got pretty excited about it…"
"I did, and, you see, they needed new employees now that they'd opened –"
"Oh. My. Shit. Joe! Did you seriously get a job there?" I was out of my seat before I realized it, throwing my arms around his neck. It had been his dream for a long time to get into a bigger institution where he could truly put his design talents to work. "That's frickin' fantastic! Why the hell didn't you tell me sooner?" My bother let out a chuckle and gripped my shoulders in a hug.
"I just got the confirmation today. And I didn't bring it up because…well, Kenny…I have to move to Regina." I froze as my brain registered that oh-so-tiny yet oh-so-important detail.
Duh. I was stupid enough not to realize that right off the bat. His grip loosened on me and my hands fell off his shoulders as I straightened up, my mind running a mile a minute.
If I had to move to Regina, I would have to totally relocate my life. I mean, I was a junior at the University of Saskatchewan in the nearby city of Saskatoon and I was on the Husky club rugby team. I had made a few friends here too.
But I can figure this out. It was a new challenge. I mean, I'm sure they offered some of the same courses that I was taking at the University of Regina or at least some college over there. I didn't know about their rugby clubs or if they accepted players this late in the year – come to think of it, did universities allow transfers in the middle of a semester? – but that wasn't really too much of a big deal. I would find somewhere to play.
There had been quite a silence as I thought this out in my head and then Miranda's arms were around me, squeezing with more force than I thought possible so someone so petite.
"Oh no, you're upset," she said, sounding near tears herself. That was another thing about Miranda that was so….unlike me and Joe. Neither of us was big on "emotions" and "feelings". I mean, if you cried and felt anything when an opponent was trash talking you on the field, you were a sissy. At least, according to me and Joe. "I told you she'd be upset!" Miranda continued. The last part was directed at Joe.
"No! No, I'm not upset. Not really," I said quickly to dissuade any concerns. I mean, this wasn't about me. It was about Joe. He'd had to put his life on hold for me when our parents had died in a camping accident – rockslide – so it was time I put mine on hold for him. He didn't have to be the one making all the sacrifices.
"But –" Joe started. I cut my brother's words off.
"I mean, I'll have to look into the courses at U of R but I'm sure I can find someplace there where I can finish a Physics degree!" Joe simply looked at me.
"Kenny," he said softly. "You don't expect me to ask you to move with us?" I looked up with surprise.
"Errm…yeah. I mean, you can't just leave me here to take care of the acreage by myself. I don't have a car to get myself to school every day and I know we aren't rich enough to get another car, pay my insurance or rent me a place in res." It was all logic.
"Actually, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner were kind enough to offer to take care of Valerie and make sure nothing happens to the house while we're gone and before you move in." Woah. I wasn't about to move into this house alone! Sure, I'd lived here my whole life but this was totally meant for a family not one person. Statistically, a married person – like Joe – has a far greater chance of having a family than I do. He should be getting the house.
"I'm not taking this house over. You're the one whose gonna have a family someday. You so take it. And besides, even if you did have someone to take care of the horse" – Valerie – "and the donkey" – Samuel – "that still doesn't explain how I'm going to get to school every day. Are you planning on getting me a car? Or is Valerie still young enough to make the trip?" The questions were sarcastic.
"Fist of all," Joe answered, putting an arm around his wife who had traveled around me to join him. She was so short compared to him; her five feet two inches barely reaching the armpit of his six feet one inch. "The company in Regina gives us a house to live in when we're there and, now that I'm in the company I don't know if I'll be coming back. It makes no sense for me to keep the house when you will be able to use it when you're older. I know you don't want to sell it." Of course I didn't want to sell it. It was one of the last pieces of Mom and Dad that we both had. How could we let it go?
"Secondly, I'm not getting you a car and I'm certainly not asking you to move in the middle of your first year of post secondary. I won't ruin the best times of your life." I opened my mouth to retaliate but he cut me off again. "You remember Nathaniel, right?"
Err…unexpected comment. But how could I not? He was basically my brother's best friend – a majorly successful journalist (who had just become the sports anchor) for the local news channel – who had tutored me through high school English. I recalled him being nice enough – not that I'd ever gotten to know him super well having only seen him four times a month.
"Yeah…" I said, not sure where this was going.
"He offered to put you up with him while you finish school. He's got an extra room in his apartment that isn't being used since his roommate left. I even offered to pay your rent for you, but he completely refused. Said it was the least he could do since I sort of supported him through his elective math course and supposedly he has more than enough money to support your food intake – little does he know. I argued but he flat out refused! And his apartment's a five minute walk from campus so he won't even have to drive you there or anything!"
"Wait a second, wait a second," I interjected, needing a moment to slow this down. "Are you seriously going to leave the city and leave me with some guy I hardly know?"
"You know him! And he's hardly 'some guy'. He's my best friend who should be able to leave enough food in the fridge for a twenty-one-year-old girl – no matter how she eats like a boy – without a problem. You'll hardly need to see him anyway! Think of it as getting your own half of an apartment!"
I opened my mouth to retort but, when he put it that way, there wasn't much I could say. I mean, yeah he was kind of leaving me with a stranger but, in all fairness, I was twenty-one– how was this much different from getting a college roommate I had never met before? – and I did know the guy at least. Depending on his work hours, I would only see him maybe in the evenings, or maybe not at all. So it was kind of like moving in by myself, without the rent. Something still made it feel wrong to me but, as I'd come to learn, if I couldn't really identify my issue, I shouldn't really share it.
"I dunno, Joe…" I looked uncertainly at Miranda who gave me a sympathetic smile.
"We're both sorry we have to leave you," she said. "I feel so guilty!"
"Naw," I waved it off. "Don't feel bad, Mir. You guys should start your lives together without me getting in the way – and don't say I haven't been!" I cut off Joe before he could even speak. "I know you guys are crazy in love or whatever and are considerate enough to spare me the scenes of you two doing lovey dovey crap all over the place. This way, you can do it all you want!" I think I was convincing myself more than them. I was surprised when Joe came up and swung his arms around me in a tight bear hug.
"Joe!" I exclaimed, wriggling but giggling at the same time. "Joseph! Get off me! Gerroff!" His grip didn't loosen and I heard him whispering in my ear.
"The job isn't set. Tell the truth Kennedy. If this is truly going to hurt you, I can still turn down the position. You and Miranda are my priority here."
Okay, did he have to go and break my heart? How could I possibly put up any fuss about anything when this was his big shot? I was being way too selfish and I was going to stop immediately.
I swung my own arms up to hug back. I admitted to myself that I would miss him. More than anything.
"Stop acting like a dad," I chastised him quietly. "You shouldn't have to slow your life down for me. I'm legally an adult; I can manage to take care of myself. And you're right, if worst comes to worst, Nathaniel will be there and if he's your best bud, that's got to mean something." The idea that I was staying with a friend instead of a relative hit me as a little strange but, at the same time, both our sets of grandparents lived in Regina, my mother was an only child and my father's sister had moved to Ontario when I was still very young. I guess there weren't any other options, right?
"Sometimes you act like a total airhead but, you know what, Ken? You're a heck of a lot more mature than people give you credit for," it was a teasing comment but I could hear the sincerity.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," I said, stiff-arming him in the chest to wiggle out of his arms. "Enough of this. I'll take my dessert upstairs. I have some homework to finish and plays to memorize."
"Make sure you're down here at eight. Stamps play the Riders!"
I walked over to the table and took my piece of apple pie with ice cream off the table and smiled at my brother over my shoulder.
"Would I ever miss that?"
A/N: As a reminder, Kennedy lives in Saskatoon which is a city in Canada.
I forgot how much I missed Kennedy. I hope that reviewing these chapters, I can find her voice again. Because these chapters are rewrites, I promise to update every Tuesday (might go up Wednesday if I totally forget – very likely). Hopefully I will get a chance to write some new stories.
Oh, an officially this story will have almost ZERO plot. Nothing earth shattering here, just a fun, fluffy story :)