Author's note: Something I had in my folder for a while… was meant to be a one shot, but seriously, you know how long my one shots are so I'm going to save you the trouble and cut it in sections. Yaay .. gotta love clichés and light hearted drama.
Yes, that was my fair warning. HAHA!
Like Best Friends but a Little More
OK, be realistic here. If it takes me an hour to cook dinner and forty-five minutes to do the laundry – folding and all – thirty minutes to vacuum the living room and all the rooms upstairs… not to mention my homework…
Argh, what was that incessant noise?
"Would you stop?" I snapped, glowering to my left. A bored expression met my frantic one before he turned away without a word, the tempo of his tapping pencil ongoing. Miffed, I turned back to the sheet of paper in front of me.
OK, fine, if he was going to be like that, I could learn to ignore him. I could cope. Whatever. Where was I? Oh, right. How was I going to fit my homework into my schedule? Shouldn't that be top priority, though? I gnawed on the end of my pencil. I can study while I'm cooking dinner! Yes, OK, that worked.
Oh no. Dad wasn't going to be home tonight, so that meant I had to watch the brat.
I crossed out everything. Let's start from the beginning. What's the most important thing to do above everything else?
Pick up brat
Grocery shopping for dinner
Home – retrieve all dirty clothes and begin laundry
Start dinner ; 4.5. attempt to study for biology test tomorrow
Give brat a snack – I mean, his bath – oh –
"Ugh!" I scratched the whole list out and pushed the pen and paper away from me. I'll just go with the flow. Yes, I knew how to do that. I was not uptight – seriously.
It was taunting me. I squinted at the sheet of paper just begging to be touched. My unorganized thoughts began to tug at me from inside my brain and – oh forget it!
OK. Obviously I had to pick Will up. I couldn't just abandon him at school. But if I brought him grocery shopping I was going to spend half the time there chasing after him.
Maybe I can be late in picking him up. You know, just a tad. Maybe an hour. Maybe I can cook dinner while he's there - !
No. No, that wasn't nice. And anyway, Dad would whoop my ass for doing that on purpose. Arugh, let's try again.
I pick him up, but leave him outside!
No. He'll run away. Or get kidnapped. My eyes glazed over. The latter thought was kind of appealing. Sort of. Only if I'm evil – which I'm not – so, um –
Well, anyway, I guess he'll just have to come. I can chain him to my arm.
For a moment I had a mental image of Will running frantically and me being pulled behind him.
No. Cross that thought out.
"What're you doing?" a drawl reached my ears. Jumping, I turned and saw the same boy tapping the pencil glancing at me with a perturbed expression.
"Thinking," I said.
"You think weird."
What? What did he just say? I looked at him for a moment before looking sharply at the clock. We only had five minutes of class left and he's distracting me from my train of thought! I offered a polite nod and focused my attention back to –
"Seriously, Anne. You need to relax," he said.
"I am relaxed," I said automatically, along with a convenient glare in his direction. "And I don't recall asking you for your opinion, Josh, so maybe you can leave me - "
He was peeking over my shoulder, leaned forward slightly from his seat. "Did you just call your little brother brat?"
I swatted him away and hugged the paper to my chest. "Stop glancing!" I pointed a pen in his direction. " And stop that annoying tapping of yours. I'm trying to do my to-do list."
"Oh, yes, that needs utmost concentration," he drawled, leaning back. "It's not that hard."
"Yes it is! And stop mocking me, it's not nice. Obviously you wouldn't know how much concentration it requires when you're dividing your day up equally and – oh for crap's sake – there's only two minutes left! Stop talking to me!" I showed him my shoulder and tried to think hard.
Right. Pick Will. Grocery. Give Brat snack. Start dinner. Tell him to – to – to what? Do his homework? He's in the kindergarten! Oh, God. Maybe he can play with that yellow truck stashed under my bed.
I took that away from him for a reason. He kept jamming it up my nose when I was sleeping.
I frowned at the memory. Well. I won't be sleeping so maybe this one time…
My cell phone rang so I fished it out of my pocket. "Hello?"
"Hey, darl. I'm going to be a little later than I thought, is that okay?"
A chill crawled down my spine. You mean… I have put him to bed? Oh, no. Oh, no.
"So would it be alright to put Will to bed and read him a story?"
"But, Dad, he has an imagination! He can imagine himself to sleep – "
Dad laughed, and that wasn't that reassuring. Great. "Please, darl? You know how cranky he gets when he doesn't go to bed at the right time."
Was he kidding? Do I know how cranky the boy got? Pft.
I rubbed the side of my face. "Okay," I agreed reluctantly. "But if he pees on me again, Dad – I swear - !"
His chortle interrupted my short tirade. "I promise he won't."
"Yeah, you say that now," I accused. "And only because you're not there. He's not potty-trained, I tell you. He's fooling you."
"Of course he is, darl," Dad responded mildly. Clearly he thought his eldest daughter was loony. Yeah, and Will was completely normal. Who wants mash potatoes in their oatmeal again? Who? "Because that is possible for a four year old."
"He's devious," I tried to convince him. Dad never believed me. "He takes all my underwear and throws it out my window!"
"That was once."
He laughed, long and hard. My lips pressed into a hard line. Will was young, I understood that, but I don't think I can excuse those evil cackles of his, as I bolted down the stairs and outside, looking like a mad person trying to catch my flying panties.
Complete and utter embarrassment. He knew was he was doing.
"We should hire a babysitter," I said for the one-hundredth time. "I'll pay her - "
"Waste of money when you can do it yourself," he dismissed. I could hear the smile in his voice. "I have to go now, sweetie. Call me when he's been put to bed, okay?"
"Okay," I said begrudgingly. Sighing, I clicked the off button and looked up.
My whole class was staring at me.
I froze and cleared my throat self-consciously.
"Those were your underwear?" Josh muttered beside me, looking at me with a strange expression. "You told me they fell from the sky."
My face was crimson, I just knew it was. "They did," I exclaimed. "…From my window."
Even after the bell rang, they were all still laughing.
"You know that even though you're walking as fast as you can, I can still catch up to you no matter what?" Josh said mildly as he walked along side of me. I slowed my fast walking and sighed. "You know that it doesn't really bother me that it was your underwear that fell on my face?" he said, probably trying to lighten the mood.
Well, he failed. Failed! "Be quiet," I said. I tried clearing my throat. "And plus, they were clean. So technically - "
"Anne." He was probably stifling his laughter. "I'm pretty sure I've seen more than your underwear."
Gasping, I whirled around and slammed him against the locker. "What if someone hears you!" I hissed frantically. Josh raised an eyebrow and gently pried my hands away from his chest. "You can't go saying that around casually!"
"And why not?" he said.
I shrugged uncertainly. "I don't… know." I inspected the dent near his shoulder on the locker behind him. He ruffled his hair before straightening.
"Whatever, Anne. I'm going home. You need a ride?"
I didn't dare look at his face. Instead, I took a step back. "No thank you. The weather looks nice for a walk today," I said politely and whirled around.
Until I felt a warm hand clasp my elbow gently. I automatically stopped walking and turned to face him. He was looking at me expectantly, his eyes darting from my face to the window.
"I am… aware."
There was an awkward pause where we averted our eyes in every direction but at each other before I cleared my throat and said, "I shall ride with you."
He rolled his eyes, "Why you talkin' like that for? C'mon."
I followed him, his hand somehow finding my hand from my elbow. I tried hard not to feel anything and instead focused on the people we passed by. But then I realized that that wasn't a brilliant idea since their eyes darted from our faces to our connected hands.
That's okay. I was not fazed. I am completely… fine.
My nose began to twitch and I resisted the urge to reach up and rub away the disturbance. Woe for me, since Josh knew that whenever I rubbed my nose relentlessly, it meant something was on my mind. And I didn't have a sheet of paper within my reach to organize my thoughts.
My nose twitched again.
"You got an umbrella?" Josh's calm voice reached my ears as he stared out into the rain.
I shook my head. "No, I left it at home." Home. Dinner. Brat. I groaned. "Actually, Josh," I said slowly, retrieving my hand from his. I tried not to rub my nose. "I have to pick my brother up, and -" I faltered when he gave him a raised eyebrow.
I shot him my own look defiantly.
"What's that look for?" I scowled. He had his holier-than-thou expression. I told him about that. I told him I would rearrange his face if he kept looking down at me.
His lips pressed into a smile, as if remembering my various warnings. All accompanied with physical reminders. Yup, yup. "We'll pick your brother up," he addressed my thoughts.
I made a scrunched face at him before bursting into awkward, hysterical laughter. He observed me calmly, probably used to it. I mean, we have been neighbours ever since we were in diapers. He was always the calm, collected and cool bad boy. You'd think he'd keep to himself, but no. He was mischievous, but slick.
Dads were supposed to tell you to stay away from bad boys! Mine told me to play with him. I'd like to think he said this was because he was tired of me tugging his shirt to play Barbies. In fact, I only recalled him playing twice with me… both of them short-lived. So I made Josh play with me.
But he told me I was immature and proceeded to dissemble their heads from their bodies… Sigh.
"It's okay," I said, backing away. He stared at me. "It's… it's okay!"
He slid me a blank look before walking into the rain without another word.
I frowned. Thought he'd put up a better fight than that. Right, well. That was fine. I rummaged my bag for a bus ticket.
Startled, I looked up to see Josh, soaking wet under the pouring rain, holding the passenger door open. His gaze was steadily on me, and I could… I could see what he had underneath that white shirt of his…
I rubbed my nose furiously and ran through the rain and into his car.
I observed him silently. I would usually grab my agenda and try to organize the rest of my day accordingly whenever he gave me a ride (which was… pretty often), but today…
"You're wet," I told him.
His lips twitched. "Really? I hadn't noticed."
I nodded my head, undeterred. "Got anything to wipe yourself with?" I asked absentmindedly as I looked over to the backseat. "Where's Taylor?" I questioned, trying not to feel like I wanted to spit.
I had a feeling Josh noticed because he glanced at me sideways, amused. "Right there."
And then the car stopped and my door suddenly opened.
"Oh." I heard her voice and I scrambled to straighten myself. "Hi… um, Anne."
I smiled brightly, ignoring Josh's sudden smirk towards my skull. I shouldn't have came. I should've followed my gut instinct.
"Hi Taylor!" I greeted brightly and jumped out of my seat. I barrelled into the backseat just as Taylor smiled at me from over her shoulder as she got comfortable at the front.
Josh shot me a look, "You didn't have to -" But Taylor shoved her tongue down his throat. Wonderful. Brilliant.
I glared nastily at them because both their eyes were closed. Stupid Josh and his stupid hands wandering up her skirt. Stupid Taylor and her stupid moaning abilities.
I whipped my head to the window when Taylor pulled away, breathless, and clicked on her seatbelt. "So, Anne," she breathed. I tried not to let my annoyance show and I smiled lightly, looking in her direction. "Why are you here?"
I loved how blunt she was. "Getting a ride," I said simply.
"Still didn't get your own car, huh?"
I could say the same for you. I wanted to sniff, but the thought amused me that I couldn't follow through with it. "Yep," I said cheerily.
"You're sixteen, right?" Taylor asked.
I looked at her. "I'm your age, Taylor," I said blankly. "In fact, I'm older than both of you."
Josh looked at me from the rear-view mirror with a smirk. "By one month for me," he drawled. I stuck my tongue out at him and focused on the rain splattering against my window.
Taylor shot me an obviously fake smile. "Right."
I returned her fake smile brightly. "Right!"
Clearly Taylor didn't like me. Why? Josh never told me, but I know Taylor yells at him because of… well, me. But it wasn't my fault, I swear! I mean, all I did was get a ride from him everyday. And it wasn't completely for my benefit. We were saving the world together by carpooling! So I don't understand why she's always sticking her nose up at me.
If that made sense.
"Where are we going?" Taylor asked curiously.
"Picking up Will," Josh said.
We stopped in front of the school doors and I smiled gratefully at Josh who looked at me through the mirror. "I'll be back," I said hastily and practically threw myself out of the car.
I ignored the rain instantly soaking my shirt and ran towards the double doors. My walk was brisk towards the familiar room, where I knew the little ball of demonic… I mean, the most angelic little brother anyone could ask for… was patiently waiting for moi.
"Will!" I called, before I was instantly barrelled against the wall when a body came flying in my direction. "William," I wheezed. "You like hurting me, don't you?" I gave him a knowing look.
He grinned mischievously. "Nope!"
I playfully rolled my eyes and nudged him towards the coat racks. The supervisor smiled at me from where she was handling two crying children and I waved in their direction. Will looked over and began giggling under his breath.
I glanced at him, "What?"
He pointed to the two girls. "They think they pulled each other's hair. They didn't." His toothy grin was enough to silence me effectively. But I did shoot him my darkest glare.
"That's not very nice," I said to him and grabbed his backpack. He only smiled and threw an arm around my waist. Sighing, I ruffled his hair. Oh, Will. I can't live with him, but I can't live without him.
"Why you wet?"
"Cause it's raining."
"We're walking in the rain?"
"Yes." I proceeded to cackle manically at his worried look. "No!" I chortled, "Haha, no. Josh is waiting outside." He frowned at me, but didn't say anything. In fact, he rummaged through his backpack and grabbed a neat pile of construction paper.
He practically shoved it into my stomach.
"What?" I wheezed again after glaring.
"So you won't get your head wet. Dad says you could get sick." He nodded seriously that I couldn't help but stare at him.
"You… care?" I asked slowly, afraid. We made it to the double doors, and I was still holding the pile of construction paper. I narrowed my eyes. "Or you just needed an excuse not to do your arts and crafts?"
He giggled and proceeded to run into the rain… practically giving me a heart attack.
"Will!" I practically sobbed when I reached him. I glared at him, my bangs plastered to my face. He was getting wet, and I decided that if I wanted to keep my life, I better keep him healthy. I pulled the door open and nudged him in. "Don't do that. You could get run over. You could get hurt!" I said, glaring at him fiercely. Ugh, but I know my message wasn't as effective because I had to wipe the water from his small, grinning face. But I meant business, I swear I did!
"I won't," he nodded solemnly. My eyebrow ticked. "Hi, Josh!"
"Finally," Taylor muttered from the front. I ignored her.
"Hey kid," Josh returned. "How was your day?"
"Boring," Will rolled his eyes, and I had a feeling he got that habit from Josh… who liked to roll his eyes in my presence. See? Bad influence. "All we did was cut paper."
"That's fun," I stated. Josh and Will slowly looked at me. "What? It's better than learning the multiplication table."
"He's in kindergarten," Josh pointed out.
"I know that," I glowered. Peeved - even though I didn't know why - I pulled out my to-do list. I added clean the kitchen because - because I felt like it, OK? I tried not to groan in complete agony. I was frustrated. I only cleaned whenever I was stressed or frustrated.
"Bye, babe," Taylor said sweetly and leaned towards him to suck his face again. This time, I didn't hesitate to clear my throat loudly and gave a pointed look in Will's direction. He was staring at them with blank eyes… probably wondering what she was about to do. I mean, I don't blame him. If I were his age I would wonder the same thing.
Probably throw a rock at their heads too…
Taylor sighed but kissed Josh's cheek instead.
"Bye, Will," Taylor smiled. Will replied chirpily. "Bye, Anne." Her voice fell flat. Josh stifled a snicker.
I smiled brightly. "Bye, Taylor!" She slammed the door closed. "Rat," I muttered under my breath.
Josh snickered. "What was that?"
"Nothing," I feigned innocence. I crossed my arms across my chest, pursing my lips. The strained silence continued. At least, it felt strained to me. Actually, I really wanted to - "Why are you dating her?" I blurted, and horrified, I immediately clamped my mouth shut. The heat which flared my face was automatic as well.
Josh's eyebrows shot up. "Why do you care?"
"I don't," I immediately denied. "It's just, I mean… even though you aren't the greatest… person…" I trailed off, eyebrow ticking, nose itching, "I just think you could do better than Taylor, OK?" I snapped, and miffed, I pointedly showed my shoulder in his direction. He was looking at me through his rear-view mirror.
"She doesn't like Taylor," Will announced, matter-of-factly. He nodded his head sagely. "She always yells about how stupid you are. It's because you don't notice that she lik -"
Heart in my throat, I slapped a hand to Will's mouth. Oh. My. God. Oh. My. God.
Furiously ignoring the blood pounding in my face, I cleared my throat loudly. Josh's gaze was suddenly unreadable.
I repeat: oh, my -
No. No. Will was going down. See what I meant? I wanted to sob in utter agony. He was a demon child. I was the angel being dragged down by him and his evil cackles.
"Oh, look!" I said enthusiastically, pointing at the grocery store. I felt a hysterical smile touching my lips. "Thanks, Josh, how did you know I wanted to -?" I shook my head. I didn't want him to answer me anyway. "Oh, right, you read my to-do list," I said listlessly with a sigh.
The grin was still strained. I grabbed Will's backpack and pulled him into my arms. I needed to get out of here as quickly as possible.
"OK, see you tomorrow! This might -" I cleared my throat. I rubbed my nose. "This might take a while. So, right. You don't…" I waved him away, "…have to wait." As I watched him slam the door closed and make it over to where I was standing in a puddle.
Wonderful! Yes, life was absolutely grand.
"What're you doing?" I asked blankly. Will began squirming in my arms, but I didn't release him.
Josh's eyes met mine and he smiled that charming, bad boy smile. "What's it look like?" He gently hauled Will into his arms, and I noticed with a glare, that Will immediately stopped squirming. In fact, that little traitor threw an arm around Josh and began to pump his fist into the air in happiness.
"It looks like you're coming to do my grocery shopping with me."
"Wanna write this new development in your to-do list, too?"
My jaw dropped. "Are you mocking me?"
He flicked my forehead as he passed by. "Congratulations. You noticed."
I whirled around, watching his broad back. I silently watched Josh grin at Will… and - NO, I did not just feel warm at the sight. In fact, I felt absolutely cold. And disgusted. Gosh, wasn't I disgusted. Right.
"Why isn't he blowing up buildings?" I muttered as I stalked towards them without splashing on the big puddles. "Why does he have to come shopping? Doesn't that ruin his image or something?" I wondered aloud with a frown.
I grabbed a cart and waddled - yes, I waddled - in their direction. They were staring at a box of cookies, practically drooling.
"Not before dinner," I snapped, snatching the box in Josh's hand. He was ready to tear it open. We've gone through this scenario so many times that I could mouth what he was going to say.
I did just that.
"I'm gon' pay for that," Josh said, and then smirked when he realized what I was doing.
He rolled his eyes when he acknowledged my next words. "That's not the point," I lectured. "You're supposed to be firm with kids. You can't let them get what they want, especially if it ruins their dinner." I threw a pointed look in Will's sulking/scowling demeanor. "Sorry, Will. It's for your own good."
"No you're not," he whined, completely disregarding the comment where I stated I was only looking out for him. "Give it back, Anne." He pouted.
"Yeah, c'mon, Anne." Josh's lazy grin was toe curling.
"Can you not smile at me?" I glowered. "It feels so violating."
He stared at me before barking out a laugh. "What the hell? What's that supposed to mean?" His eyes twinkled and he threw his free arm around my shoulder. I sighed heavily, not bothering to shake him off. I've grown used to his 5000 extra pounds of fat lying on my shoulder.
OK. I was lying. But still.
"It means exactly what you interpret as." I mean, how else could you interpret those words? He knew exactly what I meant. "And you're distracting me," I exclaimed. I proceeded to race forward, my heart pounding in my chest because I'm already behind schedule. Oh, wonderful.
"So what do you want us to get?" Josh said mildly, keeping up with my breakneck pace. I threw him a distracted look.
"Um, the usual fruits and vegetables, plus lettuce this time, please." I smiled at him a little. He returned the grin. When he turned, that's when I allowed myself to stop and watch him and Will walk towards the direction of the fruits. Will was holding Josh's hand tightly, but he didn't look like he minded. In fact, he was grinning down at my brother.
This was the guy that people in school called absolutely dangerous. You did not mess with Josh unless you wanted to be physically impaired for the rest of your life.
But… here I am, watching him willingly grab fruits for me. Again.
This is how you know that Josh has been with me for a long time. He goes grocery shopping with me.
Sighing, I pulled out my sheet of paper and read the list half-heartedly.
Still hard to believe that I allowed myself to fall in love with him.
I should have expected that. I really should have. But even though, I still couldn't help it as my jaw fell and I stared in complete disbelief at the mountains of junk food lying in my cart.
"How… unhealthy…" I strangled out, trying not to reach forward and smack the living daylights out of Josh. Mostly because I could hurt myself doing that. Oh, right. And I wanted to set a good example for Will.
I winced, realizing how much I sounded like my Dad.
"Don't worry," Josh grinned as he placed the items at the cash register. "Half of it is mine." He fished out his debit -
I swapped the card. "I'm paying for it." I narrowed my eyes fiercely in his direction, daring him to argue with me.
He only raised an eyebrow, and before I knew it, I was locked under his arm, with him calmly passing his card to the swooning employee.
"Josh," I half-laughed, half-yelled. Ooh, I was angry. "Let me go!"
"Quite bipolar," Josh grinned lightly at… I squinted a little. Her name was Rania.
I made an attempt to stop his hand from punching in his code -
He straightened me in his arm and pulled me to his side tightly. I glared fiercely at his jaw line.
"Relax," he soothed, throwing a quick glare at me. "How many times have we gone through this?"
I stopped thrashing and seriously began to count. "Every time… we go grocery shopping," I mumbled.
He nodded. "And how many times have you won this argument?"
"…None…" Oh, my pride. How it hurts so.
"And by the way," he said, before he pulled out a wad of twenties and slapped it to my face. "That's for trying to pay me back."
My jaw dropped, and furious, I watched him grab all the plastic bags. I mean, Will even had two, happily skipping alongside of Josh. I looked down at the wad of money, and noted that there had to be at least two-hundred.
I practically sobbed. What the hell, why wasn't he letting me pay? I always had to sneak the money in his back pocket. Or sometimes I even left it in his car. His mail box… sometimes I slipped it into his locker…
I ran towards Josh and slapped it against his chest. "This isn't mine," I said, face straight.
He smirked. "And you're a liar." But he took the money… but then handed it to Will. "Make sure she keeps this, OK?"
Will - God, what a traitor - nodded furiously, face serious, as if he were accepting some sort of mission from God. "I will," he promised.
I slapped my forehead.
The ride home was silent. I was glaring the whole ride home, too agitated to even cross grocery shopping off my list. Josh was idly talking about - well, something about school - and Will was contributing to the conversation every now and then.
Why was he so good with kids? I wanted to cry. And why was I so crap?
"Would you -" I tried helping Josh by tugging on a few bags but - "Josh," I said sharply.
"Anne," he mimicked.
I gave him a deathly glare. "I want to help you," I told him, before pulling his right arm to my chest, and tried to pry a bag out of his hold.
I knew my face was turning red. Josh was the only one person in the world who was capable of getting under my skin. I was far from hating him, but - sometimes -
"I want to wring your neck," I told him calmly as we walked towards my front door. I instinctively put my hand on Will as he hopped onto the porch before giving him the house keys. He loved opening the door.
"I want you to stop nagging, but clearly we can't have everything in life." He shot me a toothy grin. I couldn't help but laugh at his comment.
"Fine," I conceded grudgingly as we stepped inside. "I'll stop nagging, if you let me… help you once in a while," I said, and took a few bags from his hold. He rolled his eyes at me. I saw Will copy him, and grin in my direction. He was so… proud.
I twitched and marched towards the kitchen.
"Technically I'm helping you," Josh said as he placed the plastic bags on the table and began to take its contents out. "Why do you insist on doing everything on your own?"
I pursed my lips. "And why do you think that you're almighty?"
"Oh, oh!" Will flailed his arms. "And why do you guys argue all the time?" he said, glaring a little at both of us.
We stared at the little boy.
"We don't always… argue," I said awkwardly. We shared a look. "Do we?"
Josh relaxed. "Maybe Will is right."
"About what?" My look was blank. Josh nudged me. "What?"
"We won't argue anymore," Josh told Will with a smile. I found myself staring at Josh. He was so… so…
Why did people think he was dangerous again?
"What?" Josh said and shot me a look. He took my chin in his hand and stared at me right in the eyes. I scrunched my face at him. He always used to do this when we were kids; every time I said something stupid, he would take my face into his hand and correct me slowly… like I was stupid or something.
"What?" I returned. I felt my heart beating crazily in my chest, and I thanked God that he didn't know I liked him, like those other thousand girls in the world. Not to mention his girlfriend. Ha ha…
"You stop arguing with me," he said. "Yeah?"
I narrowed my eyes, "Fine," I agreed begrudgingly. "But you have to promise to listen to me more often." I held his gaze stonily. "Yes?"
We grilled each other, faces stoic.
"Fine," he murmured and released me.
I relaxed, nodded my head, and turned to the counter. "Thanks for everything, Josh," I said with a light smile. The money Will shoved into my face felt heavy in my pocket, and I tried not to rub my nose. Josh shrugged.
"What'll it be today?" he asked casually as he stifled through the bags.
"I'm gon' make beef stir-fry and rice," I said distractedly, looking for basil. I pulled out a knife and idly told Will to change out of his school clothes. Without turning around, I knew Josh picked Will up and walked towards his room to help him change.
I felt my chest clench and I shook my head roughly. Guess I can cross that off my daily list.
I just about finished slicing the vegetables and beef when Josh walked back in with a freshly showered Will swinging on his back. Half of Josh's shirt was wet, but he was sporting a grin.
"That was fast," I commented.
Josh glanced at my perfect cuts. "No, you're just slow."
I pointedly ignored his remark and turned my attention to my food. "Don't they look perfect, though?"
Josh nudged me to the side, his expression flat. "Anne. Cooking is not about… precision."
"Oh? And how would you know?"
He smirked. "I know how to cook."
I didn't say anything because… well, he does know how to cook. Please spare me the details. All I'm going to say is I was sick, Dad was at work, and Will was hungry. Oh, and Josh happened to be at my house… again.
"Fine," I said good-naturedly. I handed him the knife. "I'm going to go start studying."
Josh wasn't even listening. Brilliant.
I opened my eyes when I felt someone shaking me, and the first thing I realized was that I was drooling on my Biology textbook, more than halfway through studying. I was in the basement. What the crap?
Josh was looking down at me in amusement. "So much for studying," he commented.
"I was just resting… my eyes…" I yawned. And then I straightened. "Oh, crap, how long was I asleep?"
"Not long," he glanced at his wrist watch. "I just finished cooking dinner."
"You cooked it… all?" Horrified, I stared at him before rubbing my nose. I glanced at him sharply to see him looking at me in bemusement. I narrowed my eyes. "…Thank you."
He laughed. "Alright."
He turned to walk, and I didn't know why, but I grabbed his shirt before he could remove himself from my reach completely. Surprised, I stared down at my hand, while he looked down at me questionably.
Right. Um. I coughed awkwardly and slowly retracted my fingers from his shirt.
"Sorry… I, um, I wanted to see if your shirt was cotton…" Wow. I'm an idiot.
Josh turned to face me, a smirk touching his lips. "Yeah?"
I felt my face heating as I stood up abruptly. "Yes."
I made a move to walk past him, but he sidestepped me. A frown instantly snapped my eyebrows. What was he doing? "Yes?" I asked evenly.
Josh didn't falter. He tilted my head with a finger to meet his eyes. I just raised an eyebrow.
Finally, he smiled. It was that familiar boyish smile; not his 'You-know-I'll-mess-you-up' smile. I loved that smile. I instinctively smiled back. We may act like we couldn't stand each other… but I think he was the closest friend I'll ever have.
"You're slick," he said, but clearly he was mocking me.
My smile stretched. "You're rude."
He scowled, but I knew he was teasing. "OK, go stuff yourself. I'll take care of the laundry."
I gawped at him.
"Josh," I said sharply and pulled him to me when he made a reach for the washing machine. "What are you doing?" I demanded almost hysterically. I put all my strength into dragging his body up the stairs. "Stop - just -" Agitated, I whirled around. We were halfway up the stairs. He was staring at me with a small frown on his face.
"What is it, Anne?" he asked, clearly annoyed. "What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," I exploded. "What's wrong with you? You're not supposed to be - be this helpful!"
"And why not?"
"Because -" I bit my tongue. "Because it's my job, OK? You're not even supposed to know me."
"But I do," he rolled his eyes. "I've known you since you could crawl." His eyes snapped to mine. "Are you talking about our social image?" He scowled at the words, this time with distaste. I levelled my glare to his face. "I don't give a shit, Anne," he said bluntly. "If I like being with you, then I like being with you. Whoever wants to say something about that can deal with me."
I glowered. "So. I take it you're doing all these nice things because you haven't been around for almost two weeks?" Josh and I would speak during school - barely - like we did in class, but for the past two weeks, it was almost like he was avoiding me. We'd ride to and from school, but other than that, he barely said a word.
"What, you missed me?"
"Don't change the topic," I said sharply, because I really did miss him. But then I'd stop caring because I figured he was with Taylor.
"Well, I'm here now, aren't I?"
Now I was pissed off with his nonchalant attitude. I stared at him stonily before I gave him a tight smile and turned around. I didn't bother dragging him up the stairs with me.
Heading straight for my bag, I grabbed my to-do and crossed off all that has been done.
"Really, Anne. Really? You're pissed off at me," came his amused voice.
I whirled around. "I'm not pissed off," I told him with a sweet smile.
He shook his head and turned for the kitchen. I gritted my teeth and followed after him, berating myself for even caring that he didn't push the subject further. What the hell, he wasn't my boyfriend. He didn't even like me.
It was something I had to remind myself on a daily basis. Just because he came and did all these… insanely nice gestures… didn't mean he cared for me. He cared for my Dad. Dad was like a second father to him. He cared for me - like you would care for a little sister. It was the indifferent kind of caring.
I suddenly felt like cleaning my washroom.
"I'll be back," I said stiffly, and on my way out of the kitchen, I grabbed the gloves under the sink and walked upstairs.
I did not have a problem.
World history essay: body paragraphs (rough)
Biology study notes for CH 4 test
Buy medicine for Will
Try not to groan in complete agony
Jump off a cliff
The last one was crossed and changed to try to hold my breath forever.
I blew a strand of hair from my face, staring at my organized binder before returning my gaze to my list. Despite what I've written, I lowered my head to my desk and groaned under my breath, trying not to feel the ultimate pound of frustration.
"Jump off a cliff?" Josh's whisper made me shiver. "A little extreme, don't you think?"
"No," I murmured back, lifting my head to him. He smirked and offered me his pack of gum. Despite myself, I took it and popped a tablet into my mouth.
"You two have enough of that for the class?" the teacher said sharply. I froze and looked up. Josh calmly lifted his gaze and smiled a slow smile.
I relaxed, rolling my eyes when I saw the teacher practically melt. Nothing's more dangerous than a bad boy with charm. Honestly.
I soon found myself standing and packing my belongings. Josh's seat was right behind me, and I could see that he was taking his sweet time as well.
Distractedly, I looked up and saw Ivan Graham smiling at me.
"Hi," I gave a tiny confused wave. Ivan and I were friends, sure, but it was more of a hi-bye kind of friendship. We had a few classes and we'd talk, but it wasn't anything strong enough for him to seek me after school.
Hum. UNLESS I forgot to give him his notes. But I could've sworn…
"Oh, I didn't return your notes?" I asked worriedly, reaching for my binder.
"No, no," he said, a gentle smile on his face. I couldn't help but stare. Ivan was - well - he was hot. But he was the shallow kind of hot, not the tough-exterior-but-sweet-on-the-inside sexy like -
"Oh," I smiled. "What's up?"
"I was wondering," he said casually, leaning against my desk. "Are you busy this Friday?"
I glanced at my opened planner still on my desk and didn't see anything important. Actually, Fridays I usually relaxed. Well, to an extent.
"No, actually, I'm not," I said, glancing to his face. He was smirking. Ugh, damn. He was too good looking.
"Actually, you are."
My mouth opened and closed, and in disbelief, I turned around to see Josh standing next to me, his hard gaze on Ivan. I felt my heard pounding in my chest. I didn't know why. But then I suddenly had the urge to attack Josh.
"Why?" I practically snapped. I rubbed my forehead. "Anyway," I turned back to Ivan. "Sorry. Um, did you need help with anything?" I asked… probably stupidly, because Josh muttered something under his breath, and Ivan sort of smiled, like what I said was cute.
What the hell. I didn't do cute. I did control. I was - I -
"Can I take you out to dinner?"
- was completely on guard - and - wait - what?
"As in a date?" I asked, this time I knew for sure, stupidly.
His eyes twinkled. "As in a date."
I stared at him blankly, and before I knew it, "O-oh… OK… sure!"
A large grin split his face, and before I knew it, I was giving him my cell phone number to set up a place and time… and then he was gone.
I think I was standing there, unfeeling, before Josh practically knocked me over, trying to past by me.
"Ow," I glared at Josh who suddenly whirled around. Suddenly, I retracted when I caught sight of his face. His expression was scarily dark, and he looked like - well, he looked like he wanted to punch something. "What's wrong with you?" I asked blankly.
"You just -" he growled, before he straightened. I saw the vein popping from his forehead. "You just agreed to go on a date with Ivan Graham."
I broke out into a groan. "Ugh, what the hell…"
He looked startled for a moment, before he narrowed his eyes. "What the hell, Anne?"
"I wasn't thinking," I hissed, slapping my forehead. "Don't put me on the spot!" I said frantically. "I don't even like him! Ugh, oh my God. JOSH. You better help me get out of this one," I said, marching up to his face. He was suddenly grinning widely at me. I slowly backed away, "Josh…?"
"Nothing," he said, trying to smother his grin. But his smile was still gorgeous, and it was making me dizzy.
I sucked in a deep breath and smiled uncertainly.
"OK…" What a weirdo.
I sighed, and looked up to ask Josh what I should do, but he was closer than I thought. I found myself staring right into his eyes, and the smile was gone from his face. He looked completely serious… and thoughtful. Why would he -
Josh. Was. Kissing. Me.
Yeah. Well. So I fainted.
I wouldn't mind seeing his face every time I woke up, was the first thought that came to my mind.
Josh's smirking face was looking down at me. But he looked more worried than he was supposed to.
I suddenly realized that I was in his arms. As in, he was holding me. As in… physical contact.
"Agh!" I shoved myself away and landed on my bum. I looked up at him sharply, rubbing my nose. "What just happened?" I asked blankly, but as soon as the words left my mouth, I remembered.
My jaw dropped and I stared at him in complete disbelief.
Josh sort of bent forward to meet my eyes. "Didn't know I was such a horrible kisser," he said thoughtfully, an arrogant grin on his face. Clearly he thought otherwise.
I stared at him before laughing. My whole chest started to hurt, not because I was laughing, but because I wanted to cry. I wanted to sob so badly, but I didn't, mostly because Josh wouldn't give a shit. That would only make me cry harder.
"You just cheated on Taylor," I said between giggles. I felt like choking.
Josh's smirk fell and he was narrowing his eyes. "Anne?"
I realized then I was heaving. I lowered my head, feeling my eyes fill with big fat tears. Oh dear God, not now. I was not going to do this now. This wasn't even part of my list! What the hell.
"I have to go," I managed to strangle out, and with a tight smile, I stood up and grabbed my back pack.
But his hand was on my wrist, and I was yanked to his chest. I stood completely still, staring at the ground blankly.
Josh was silent as well.
"You like me, don't you," Josh said so softly that I had to strain my ears to hear him.
Wow. What an ego.
I couldn't help but growl, whirling around. "Well, Josh," I said mockingly, "maybe if you stopped forcing yourself in my presence. Or maybe if you stopped being so nice to my brother - for acting like you care or give a shit about my life." I rubbed my eyes furiously. "Maybe if you stop always being there when I need you the most -" I exhaled sharply. "Maybe then I wouldn't like you. Maybe."
I smiled crookedly. Oh, God. I'm destroying our friendship.
"Forget it, Josh," I said curtly, trying not to feel hurt by his lack of response or his unreadable expression. "Just -" I inhaled and walked away before he had a chance to register anything in sight.
Hand in Bio and Eng
List of schools to transfer
I crossed the second one off the list. I think I'm being a little overdramatic.
OK. Find Ivan to apologize for cancelling our date… also apologize for avoiding him
Learn how to make a voodoo doll
Get hair from
I crossed the voodoo doll part as well. OK, now I was just being psychotic.
Try not to care
I don't care
Why the hell would I care?
I sucked in a breath and crossed those three out.
Act like you're interested in your surroundings
I took my own advice, idly listening to my friends chatter. But from the corner of my eyes, I could see Josh's arm around Taylor and -
I couldn't even write anything.
Despite myself, I glanced at the lovely couple, and almost completely destroyed myself when I saw them kissing. Again.
Like for the past month.
I gritted my teeth, shutting my eyes tightly.
"Will!" I called desperately, shoving my feet into my shoes whilst putting on my jacket. I whirled around, looking for my bag and threw it over my shoulder. Will was running towards me, his shirt buttoned wrong, and I couldn't help but laugh. "Nice, Will."
"Where's Josh?" Will asked, like he did every day.
"School," I said absentmindedly as I did every day to his question.
"Oh, OK," Will said disappointedly, and I tried not to feel anything as I took his hand and stepped out of the house.
"OK, Will, you're late and I'm late. I have a test first period, and I have fifteen minutes to drop you off and get my butt there," I told him. I don't even know how the crap I woke up late. I never wake up late. I was an organized person; collected and calm. I didn't do frazzled and unorganized.
Yeah. Until Josh completely shut me out of his life. Now I felt like I was dying.
His room was right across from my own window, and we usually wave or have quick, silent conversations with each other just for laughs. Nowadays I would see him with Taylor, either making out, or just… talking. Him laughing, her laughing. Just… lying there. I never saw him alone, because all the other times, his curtains would be pulled over.
"Come, Will," I said, quickening my pace. I tightened my grip on his hand when I felt him stumble. But then I slowed down when I heard his rapid breathing. I rubbed my face, tired. "OK, never mind, Will. It's alright, you can be late a little bit." I smiled down at him, and he nodded, puffing.
I bit my bottom lip. Maybe the teacher allowed students to take tests after school? During spare, maybe?
I tried not to feel hopeless, because honestly, I was never like this. What the hell was Josh doing to me?
"Look, Anne," Will said suddenly, and stopped walking. I looked to where he was pointing, and felt my heart stop completely.
"Get in," Josh said, door open.
I looked at him vaguely, not doing anything to stop the hurt I've been feeling for the past month in my chest. I only shrugged a little and continued to pull Will along gently.
"No, thanks," I said mildly.
"Anne," Will said, his voice a little upset. "Anne, please. Please get into the car."
I looked down at my little brother and saw his pleading face. Josh honestly wouldn't do anything to Will. They were like brothers.
I looked up at Josh's straight face, still waiting at his passenger door parked at the sidewalk. I nodded and stopped in front of him.
"Thanks," I said vaguely. Like usual, Josh reached for Will first. So I turned around and began walking to school.
"Anne!" Will called out desperately.
"Anne," Josh said sharply. "What the hell - get your ass back here."
Beg for extra credit because I did not finish that test, even halfway
Go to library for books for more references for World History
Possibly may need to fake sick last period to get out of school to do the above
Pick Will up
Cook dinner, under an hour this time
Help Will with
I laid my head against the desk, eyes closed. Dad told me he was seeing someone. I resisted the urge to bang my head against the desk. Dad was supposed to love Mum forever.
Try not to die
My phone vibrated. I glanced up to the teacher. He was took focused on his book, and the chatter allowed me to answer my cell phone.
"Darl," Dad's voice reached my ears, the smile apparent in his tone. I felt sick to my stomach and I closed my eyes again, leaning my head on the desk.
"I'll be bringing Ileana for dinner, is that fine with you?" came his now tentative voice.
I gritted my teeth. Right. Like I had a choice. He was going to bring a stranger into Mum's kitchen. She was going to sit in Mum's spot.
"You OK, darl?" he said gently.
He sighed. "Sweets, I know you're angry but… how about giving Ileana a chance? She's a nice person."
"Anne." He sounded sad. "Is Josh there?"
I buried my face in my arms. Josh was sitting right next to me, but he was talking to his friend in front of him, pointedly ignoring my existence. So I figured I'd do the same thing.
"You have the same class," Dad accused, sounding confused.
I laughed a short laugh. "Then why ask?"
"Wow, Anne, you graced me with more than one word," Dad said wryly, but I detected a hint of impatience. What right did he have to be annoyed with me when - when - when's he's tainting Mum's memory? I suddenly felt like throwing my phone away. I sat up, straight, and began to cross everything off my list.
"I apologize," I said curtly.
"Can you put him on?" His voice was more gentle. I scrunched my face.
I wondered whether I would get yelled at if I hung up on him, but in the end, I wordlessly held my cell out to Josh. He assessed me for a moment before he took it.
The fourth period bell rang, but I didn't rush to class like I normally would. Instead, I packed my bag, slammed my locker, and headed out of the school. I needed to get to the library, but get back in time to pick Will up.
Josh's presence surprised me as I stepped out of the building, but I didn't show my shock. He was leaning against the wall, face unreadable. When I looked at him, he straightened, pulling that disgusting stick from his mouth.
Despite myself, I marched up to him and ripped the offending cancer stick from his hold. "Cancer," I told him tightly, dropped it, and crushed it with the tip of my shoe.
He was so used to my actions that he ignored them. "Where you going?" he asked casually, like we haven't been ignoring each other for the past month and a half.
I made a vague motion with my hand. "Away." I barely glanced at him. "Bye, Josh."
"Still ignoring me?" he said, almost amusedly. He was following me leisurely when I looked behind me.
I stopped and turned to face him. "I know Dad told you to talk to me," I said, ignoring what he said. "And I'm going to tell you that whatever he said, ignore him. He doesn't know what he's talking about. In fact, he has no idea what the hell he's doing," I bit out.
"He introduced his lady to me." Josh's eyes locked with mine. "She seemed nice enough."
Despite myself, I couldn't stop the flash of fear spread throughout my body. I gritted my teeth. "I don't care what she is to him, but as far as I'm concerned, she's that unwanted dirt at the bottom of my shoe." I felt the pressure behind my eyes at the betrayal of… of everything.
He quirked an eyebrow. "Since when were you ever outwardly rude?"
I smiled at him falsely. "Since you destroyed me. Figured if someone like you could do something like that to me, then maybe I shouldn't even care about what other people feel." Yeah. He scarred me.
For the first time, Josh looked shocked. He raised a hand toward me, as if to touch me. "Anne -"
"What, I'm being overly dramatic? Maybe," I said. "But my father is out there kissing some other woman who isn't my mother. My mum, Josh," I said, a hitch in my voice. "My mum who completely loved Dad with all her heart; who gave the world everything. I don't know how he can even think of comparing them," I said fiercely.
He lowered his eyes, his face suddenly unreadable. "She was amazing," he murmured.
I smiled at him. "She was," I agreed quietly. The wind ruffled my hair, and I suddenly remembered what I had to do. "Anyway," I trailed off, and then sighed. "Bye."
"Wait," he said, almost desperately.
I turned around slightly, watching him from the corner of my eye. "Yes?"
He turned his eyes away from mine, but his lips were set into a grim line. "I shouldn't have kissed you," was what he said. I knew it was his form of apology.
I shrugged. "Yeah. I know."
He was leaning on his car when I stepped out of my house. Dad switched shifts and he was able to take Will to school. I didn't have to leave early or wake earlier than I could.
I think I stared at him for a moment, and I couldn't help but call out. He was staring at my lawn when a concentrated, cold look on his face. I felt my heart thumping in my chest and I had to exhale heavily before speaking.
"What's so interesting about the grass, Josh?" I asked, somewhat sarcastically, and somewhat tiredly.
His head snapped to mine. "Nothing." There was something in his gaze. "I came to pick you up."
"Mhm." I walked to him, but only because it was in the direction of the sidewalk. I didn't bother slowing down as he pushed himself off his car.
"Anne," he said lowly, his hand suddenly on my wrist.
I turned around sharply. "What, Josh? What do you want?"
"It was wrong for me to ignore you," he blurted suddenly. "Anne, this is fucking crazy, us not talking. You've never gone a month without talking to me."
"I thought I was annoying."
"Well, I got used to you."
"Great, I guess you now know how it feels like to be ignored," I said with a roll of my eyes. "I need my wrist back, please."
Instead, he pulled me to his chest.
I completely stopped moving. "Let me go."
He chuckled over my head. "Not a chance."
So we stood like that. My wanting to kill his entire existence, and him - I don't even know. I bet he was enjoying this, knowing someone - but I -
"We're both going insane without each other, Anne," he said seriously. "Stop trying to fight this."
He groaned a little. "You're going to make me say it, aren't you?"
I tried not to breathe too deeply. Josh always smelled good. "Say what?"
His grip tightened. "I miss you."
I smirked. "Well, I miss you too."
He paused. It felt kind of nice, standing there in his arms. He was warm and he smelt nice. Plus, he made me feel safe. I didn't tell him, but he was the only one who's ever made me feel safe ever since Mom died. He was there when I wanted to visit Mom's grave in the middle of the night. The hell if I knew how he knew I would leave. He held me when I cried my heart out. He held my hair back when I was vomiting because I cried too much.
But even before that Josh was always looking out for me. He taught me how to ride a bike - even if he yelled at me. He taught me how to climb the monkey bars; he helped me with my multiplication chart. We learned the ABC's together.
I let out a short laugh.
"What?" came his amused voice.
I leaned my forehead against his shoulder.
"A month," he said dryly. "And I broke first."
I smiled against his shirt. "You missed me," I said simply and pulled away. I didn't dare look in his eyes. "See you later."
I sped walked down the street, and I could practically feel his shock.
"What the fuck - Anne!" His footsteps pounded after me. "Are you still - what the fuck?" he said helplessly, grabbing me and whirling me around to face him. I stared blankly at his face. "What the hell?"
"I like walking, Josh," I said impatiently. "Can you… release me?"
He rolled his eyes. "Stubborn wench," he grunted but sighed and released me. "Fine, might as well walk with you," he grumbled and proceeded to do so. I gawped after him.
"What? No! Your car -"
"Shut up, Anne. I missed you. Now let's do that relishing in each other's company bullshit before we're late."
I couldn't help it. I laughed.
a/n: NO, tis not finished. X) Working on the last scene, expect it soon.