Semiprecious

: adjective, denoting minerals that can be used as gems but are considered to be less valuable than precious stones.


_

Onyx: noun, a semiprecious variety of agate with different colors in layers.

"In the period 2006–2008, life expectancy at birth for New Zealanders was 78.2 years for males and 82.2 years for females." I wasn't really talking to anyone in particular, although I should have been directing all of my conversation to 'Hand-me' guy sitting across the small table from me. And I would have, but he was too busy eye-screwing the shit out of the girl across the room. I didn't want to interrupt him, he looked like he was about to finish and I didn't want to be rude. I had learned over the years that being rude to people would make them less likely to comply with you. So I chomped on a bread roll and waited for him to finish.

I checked my watch for the umpteenth time, I'd barely been here for fifteen minutes and I wanted to leave so much that I'd gladly cut out my kidney to use as barter. But I'd made a promise to stick it out for at least an hour so I took a sip of my beer and found myself wondering why I ordered one, I don't like beer.

"Why did I get a beer?" I asked aloud, before silently reprimanding myself as 'Hand-me' guy broke eye contact with the girl across the room and looked back at me.

"Sorry? I don't… uh how do you know Jessica again Kat?" He had nice blue eyes, rather animated and I could tell they would crinkle if he smiled a genuine smile or laughed a genuine laugh, but I'd yet to see either one. I tried to keep myself from pulling at the formfitting dress -I had been forced into- down. It was one of 'those' dressed. You know, the kind that exposed way too much cleavage if you pulled it down, and made you flash the world if you tried pulling it up. It wasn't a Kara dress, it was a Jessica dress- it was literally Jessica's dress.

"It's Kara." I didn't get angry, mainly because I'd been referring to him as 'Hand-me' guy in my head, but I didn't want it to sound like I'd conveniently forgotten his name just because he got mine wrong… five times. And I only started calling him 'Hand-me' guy because for the first five minutes the only things he said to me began with 'could ya hand me…' and I'm terrible with names, I still call the intern they have assisting me at work 'Appatite-glasses girl' because she has glasses that look like they're made from common rocks. Remembering where that I was supposed to be saying something I began to remind 'Hand-me' guy of how I knew Jessica, "We share a mutual near death experience involving a motor vehicle for one-" But he'd lost interest… not like he had any to begin with.

"That's cool." He interrupted, clearly just trying to shut me up. It worked, for a second.

"Maybe I ordered beer because it was one of the first alcoholic beverages known to civilization?"

He was already looking back at the girl across the room. "Maybe." I began to slouch again. I didn't want to be here and I was five minutes away from sulking. I only agreed to have dinner with 'Hand-me' guy for Jess because the girl she had originally wanted to fix this guy up with fell through, she'd already paid for the dinner and stuff and I was all she could muster up on such short notice.

And no I wasn't filling in for a hooker. I hope.

I mean sure, it'd been a while since I'd been with anyone but I wasn't going to be jumping some guy just because I got a free meal out of it. I tried to not think about the last time I got with someone just because it was convenient. Which was a very bad idea and went against the pact that I made with myself NEVER to bring up the past- in my head or otherwise. Realising I'd begun to fiddle with the charm bracelet I couldn't bring myself to throw out I withheld a yelp. The bracelet was my favourite and I'd convinced myself that it had nothing to do with the giver of the bracelet and more to do with onyx stone charms with the letters of my name etched into each individual stone-

Ah crap, quick think of work! Assessment of the new work site was to take place tomorrow; they're hoping that the environment isn't contaminated- what the hell was I doing? I'm thinking of WORK to get my mind off my last disaster that was on my mind to get my mind off of thinking about how bad this disaster was going- when all I was doing was helping out an old friend? Se ki'o ia.

There was only so much I could take; I was bored, uncomfortable and tired… and at this point a little down, so I pulled out my phone. "Can I go now?" I asked before Jess could even greet me.

"It's only been… half an hour!" Jessica was exasperated easily, it was a wonder she hasn't had a heart attack yet. I mean, I'm still not sure what she does in her line of work but she ALWAYS seems to be screaming into her phone. "Karaaaa! I thought you'd LIKE Jeremy!" Right, Jeremy, I knew there was a me (with a Y) in there somewhere. "You guys have a lot in common!" Huh?

"Jess, what do you mean we have a lot in common?" I snapped my fingers in front of 'Jeremy's' face, "Were you here to meet a…" I did a quick scan through my text messages to the one Jess sent me earlier today and found the name of the girl 'Jeremy' was supposedly meeting before she cancelled. "Tasha?" He shook his head, looking at me slightly confused. I could hear Jess's brain thinking.

"Argh, alright ,alright I lied about you 'filling' in for Tasha." Deception! "There is no Tasha, the blind date was yours to begin with." I should have known. And since I was here under false pretences I decided to do both me and Hand-me-Jeremy a favour. I told Jess I'd be seeing her soon, cutting her off mid-sentence, before getting up.

"It wasn't fun, let's not let Jess ever do this again. Now you can go do disgusting things to the girl you've been staring at all night." I reached across and shook his hand, "Kara. Out." As I left I turned around to give him (and half the restaurant) some advice, "and remember to glove up before any coitus."

_

"You couldn't have just stayed the whole hour, just to see if it could possibly work out?" Jess met me at the door to our apartment, her closely cropped hair sticking out in all directions and the men's shirt (and probably nothing else underneath) she'd wrapped around herself indicating there was more than just selfless notion to her prompts for me to stick it out with 'hand-me-Jeremy' a little longer.

"Yeah nah." I dropped my keys in the key bowl (Jessica's idea) beside the door and threw my bag on one of the couches before taking off the heels Jess forced me into, sighing as my feet touched the cool hardwood floors. Walking past Jessica's room to get to mine I chucked her heels in through the open door without looking in and yelled out "Hi Will!"

"Hey Kara." I grinned- if there was one thing in my life that I was certain of, it was that Will and Jessica were going to be married one day. It may not be now, while Will was constantly flying out of the country for overseas games and Jessica refusing to be tied down and proving it by having a guy on her arm as soon as Will was away, they would one day marry and have ridiculously beautiful children. That, and ridiculously drama-filled get-togethers. Yes, I looked forward to them very much.

It's strange, it'd taken me years, sure, and copious amounts of guidance from friends, but I was beginning to see the value in social gatherings. Not just in the form of observation and possible victims for blackmail, which I assure you I no longer partook in, but for a genuine gay old time.

Yeah right.

I swept my longish hair, tidily kept nowadays, into a ponytail before struggling with the zip on the back of Jess's dress. The zip went down by itself and I jumped, "Sweet baby Jebus!"

"Hold still, you'll rip it and then I'll be pissed." Jess's voice snapped, I let her finish unzipping the dress before grabbing a huge black tee from on top of my bed and sliding it over myself and letting her dress fall to the ground. The shirt had the words 'Ready for bed 24/7' printed across the front. It was a gift from Deacon, who I was supposed to have skyped today but forgot. I gave my laptop; sitting on my desk a forlorn look knowing that I wouldn't be able to contact Deacon, work on my current project or do anything now.

"An hour tops was what I asked of you." I sighed, back slouching in the same manner it did when Jessica lectured me. Which, as it turns out, was rather a lot.

I ran a hand through my hair and flashed her a rueful smile, "Healthy hair floats, you know." Her blue eyes were steeled against my usual tricks of evasion, "If I'd known you and Will would be 'catching up' I'd have-" she cut me off,

"Have what? Stayed a little longer? Or have gone to the lab for a few hours and then lied to me about the next day?" She knew about that? It was one time, and it wasn't my fault the guy she tried to make me forge a connection with didn't like the way I made a fortress on my plate with the sushi before eating it. Granted a few of the sushi missiles I fired at my fortress hit him by accident but there wasn't much I could do about collateral damage was there?

"You are deliberately sabotaging any sort of relationship I try to put you in!"

"Not true, I brought that one guy home once."

"He wasn't the one I set you up with, that was his brother." I made a face; in my defence I made him leave the next day. "And even then, that wasn't a relationship Kara, that was you sleeping with a guy and then telling him you had a terminal disease and that it was best if you guys never saw each other again."

I made the face again. That night had been more about a vendetta than anything and the worst I'd felt about myself. Ever. And I, as you know, like to hold myself in great esteem.

"This is one conversation I never thought I'd ever overhear." We both turned to see a shirtless Will leaning against my doorframe, light brown hair as dishevelled as Jess's and hazel eyes filled with amusement.

"Well that's because you've ventured into the territory of Nunnovyah-" I mumbled the rest.

"Nunnovyah-what?" He asked, just as I had anticipated.

"None of ya business man, go back to Jess's room!"

Will didn't budge. Jess turned back to me, "Kara, look, I'm not saying that you need to 'be with someone'" that's exactly what she was saying, "but I just want you to be happy, I mean the last actual relationship you had was with-" Cutting her off seemed to be the best option.

"The Black and Tans was a nickname for the Temporary Constables employed from 1920 to 1921 to suppress revolution in Ireland." I smiled widely, however as clever as I thought I was, Jessica didn't find me quite so clever.

"Don't start factdropping!" I jumped a bit. "You know you can't keep dodging this subject, I've let you get away with it for months now, and it's just gotten ridiculous. I mean, you guys were just about living together and then all of a sudden you're not together anymore?" I shrugged.

"Shit happens."

"What happened between you two? It wasn't your parents, your mum liked him and if your mum was sweet with him, then so was your dad! I was there when you broke it to her, she just asked if he was going to get her some more of that stuff she used to put in the garden." Something occurred to her then, "have you even told them that you guys have broken up?" The answer to that one was no, but I wasn't intending to keep letting that piece of information slide every time I spoke with my parents. It's just… it didn't seem that important, and whenever mum asked about Jay I'd give some vague answer. Don't judge me.

"It's just a bit suspect Karr. I- I honestly thought you two loved each other." I screwed my face up at the mention of the L word.

Love: noun, an intense feeling of affection that has the power to ruin people.


Jade: noun, a hard, typically green stone used for ornaments and implements and consisting of the minerals jadeite or nephrite.

Upon finding the manuscript on my desk in a shambles I stabbed the button on my phone that patched me through the lady in charge of hiring my assistants, my other hand clenched in a fist on desk. When the monotone voice answered I unclenched my jaw and spoke as calmly as I could, "Amelia could you make sure that you check a person's credentials before you hire them? I'm sick of the dipshits you think are competent enough to handle my office." Sometimes I wondered if that woman purposely hired idiots just to see me lose my cool. It was a wonder I was able to handle the submissions I had with the kind of assistants Amelia hired.

I was firing most of them before their first week was up; and getting a nickname for it too. Sir-Fires-a-Lot. Creative, I know.

"Sir, should I start looking now? You've only had uh the new one," Amelia wasn't even bothering to learn the names of whom she was hiring for me anymore, "for less than a day." I sighed, my index finger and thumb pressing against my temples in the hopes of relieving some of the pressure that was building up there. "You can be dismissed on the grounds that you've misled me to believe that you're competent enough to find me a capable assistant." It was difficult to keep from yelling, so very difficult, especially when her monotone voice seemed to rub my eardrums the wrong way.

"Sir, there is no need to threaten me or my position-"

"Just. Fix it." I hung up and returned to the manuscript before giving up and turning to my computer to check my emails. A few emails sat unread in my inbox; one from the powers that be at Stone Lexington Publishing asking why the manuscript they sent a week ago, (that I'd just found today hadn't been read) one from my father asking if I was attending Daniel's prize giving ceremony on Saturday and one from Burr.

I read through Burr's email last, skimming it first to see if there was mention of any names in particular,

'I spoke with Kara yesterday; she's working on a new project, something to do with site contamination of resources. She seems well. She didn't ask about you.'

That was Burr, blunt and unapologetic and eerily shrewd. Not that it mattered, Kara and I had both moved on with our lives. She wasn't someone I thought about everyday, I wasn't some jaded guy wondering where the fuck we went wrong. Nope, I was the workaholic I swore I'd never turn into.

Erin wants you to have dinner with us this weekend. It's weird, these people were my closest friends so why weren't we texting each other? Calling each other? I moved back from my desk, knowing the answers to my own questions. It was because I never replied to texts and I never returned missed calls. I was my father, on a fast track to success in my career at the expense of my personal and familial relationships.

There was a knock at my office and before I could respond my soon to be ex-assistant poked her head in, "I couldn't stop him, he said he was family-" she didn't even finish her sentence before the door was flung open and a large man in a leather jacket and jeans walked in, a camera bag slung over his shoulder. He turned and smiled politely at the assistant waiting for her to leave. She just looked up at Burr and then at me, probably looking for the family resemblance. Which was difficult when Burr's strange orange-tinged blue eyes, huge frame and very brown hair was vastly different to my black hair, leaner frame and dead-green eyes. "You can leave now." I clipped. The door pretty much slammed behind her.

I stood up, "I was just about to reply to your email."

Burr shook his head, "No you weren't." His silence over the years had gradually changed into a commanding presence, "I was photographing some nearby buildings and" I nodded, before shaking his hand familiarly, "thought I'd drop in, and get a lift home." It was a trap, but I knew there was no point in refusing, not when Burr was involved.

"Erin wants to speak to me doesn't she?" Even after all these years Erin, now Erin Smithson having taken on Burr's last name when they married years ago, not even out of university, was still trying to 'look after' them. She was none too pleased when she found out that Kara and I had split when we did, and she let me know every time I saw her. It got to the point that I avoided having to see Erin at all, and in turn Burr too. They were literally the only people from college and university that I kept in (little) contact with- if at all.

"She wants to make sure you're going to come to dinner on Sat," I remembered my father's email,

"I would, but it's Daniel's prize giving that night." I wasn't planning on attending.

"You weren't planning on attending." Eerie.

"Only because I'm swamped under a lot of work, manuscripts to get through editing decisions to be made. Come on Burr, I can't."

"Jay, as your mate I can try to make excuses for you- but as Erin's husband I'm obligated to get you to attend. She gets stressed when her plans don't pan out and I don't want her stressing so close to her due date." Wow, that was a low move using not just Erin, but pregnant Erin.

"You've changed man." I shook my head, moving back around my desk to shutdown my comp and gather the manuscript. I'd have to finish it off at home, if you could call the hotel room I'd been living in for the past three months home. I refused to email or call my father but I used his hotel to live in, to be close to work and avoid traffic. I continued to be a stand-up guy.

I just hoped that last night's activity wasn't there anymore, as we needed to go to my place and pick up my car. Chucking the folders into my leather bag I shrugged on my suit jacket and ushered Burr out of my office.

-

"I wasn't sure whether you wanted-" Nope, she was still here. I could feel Burr's calm gaze go from the blonde woman at my door wearing a bathrobe to the back of my head. I kept a neutral expression on my face, struggling to keep the look from finding other outlets; like my voice.

"Shelly." Masking my slight embarrassment was easy; I was good at masking what I really felt. So I took it all in a stride when she corrected her name.

"Um, Lara." Her big eyes widening as her eyebrows furrowed in what I could only be described as a sort of vacantly offended expression. I fought the urge to wave her off.

"Right, last night was fun- but I was under the impression you would be… gone by now." I dropped my suitcase on the lounge coffee table and grabbed my car keys. I could see Burr out of the corner of my eyes, clearly not impressed with me. Although I'm not really sure why, I didn't have a girlfriend. I was free to do what and whom I wanted as much as I wanted.

I'm a guy guys have needs.

"Oh yeah, ok. I'll just um go grab my clothes." She disappeared back into the room.

Looking around the room for anything else I might need I ignored Burr's "Really Jay? 'Last night was fun' but you gotta go? That's real classy, mate."

I missed the Burr who rarely spoke, and when he did, spoke in monosyllabic sentences. I relayed this to him and was rewarded with an obscene hand gesture. My eyebrows rose in mild surprise, mild because Burr's no saint as everybody likes to paint him as. "Digitus impudicus?" No one's a fucking saint. "What would Erin say if she knew you were giving people the finger? You're going to be a dad soon, Jebus."

Burr latched on to what I said faster than a lion takes down a gazelle. "Did you just say Jebus?" I froze, before inwardly shaking it off and shrugging.

"Homer Simpson certified."

The patronising, 'sure, sure' being followed up with a "more like Kara Hunt certified" mumbled under his breath made me grit my teeth, but I refrained from retaliating.

"Let's go."


_

Diamond: noun, a precious stone consisting of a clear and typically colorless crystalline form of pure carbon, the hardest naturally occurring substance.

It had only been because Erin had called me and pleaded in her 'pregnant' tone that I was here. And yes, to me 'pregnant' tone was a real thing, not that of words bubbling under the surface to be exposed, but rather the tone a pregnant lady operated to get her way. Well, there was that and her hired hand. Burr had showed up at the apartment, and you didn't say no to Burr. He had bundled me into his SUV and driven me to their house of marital bliss before I could physically decline, or scream 'KIDNAP!'

Right about now I wanted to be back on an awkward blind date being ignored. You see, the awkward dinner now would beat the awkward blind date to a pulp and then make it watch an awkward scene from an awkward movie and cry awkward tears. This was not fun; Erin had lied to me on the phone. She said I would have fun, she said there would be food and fun and her and Burr and me. She did not say there would be an awkward dinner and Jay. Who was sitting across from me now, green eyes fixed firmly on his plate. He looked as put together as I remembered, save for the dark circles barely visible under his eyes and the slight five o'clock shadow. Not that I had been studying him for the past two minutes.

Studying him so intently that I inwardly started when Erin spoke, "Is my cooking that bad?" Jebus woman, keep it together! I chided myself, why did this have to be awkward? We were adults; surely I could get through one dinner with old friends and…Jay.

-

-

"Jay, we have to go back to the dining room." I grinned, pushing my hands against his chest, lips continuing to graze his. The smell of cinnamon, which I had discovered was due to the particular aftershave he used, making me want to literally lick his face. Very unhygienic, I always refrained.

Dinner at his father's place had become a sort of monthly thing, his father wasn't so bad, and I could see where Jay got the sense of self-importance that I had all but beaten out of him. But I had a sense that the old man was starting to like me, it was in the way he would ask if I'd committed a fact about is business to memory.

"Your dad probably thinks we're out here copulating. Se kao se umu."

"You really want me baked in an oven?" Jay responded, for some reason him understanding what I said in Samoan turned me on. I stopped pushing him away and wrapped my arms around his neck, grinning as his arms tightened around me, never having moved from their spot.

-

-

"Kara?" Erin's voice cut through a flashback that took me by surprise. I looked up and smiled, hiding the fact that I had just had a sudden and disturbing vivid memory of an event in the past concerning the man across the table, and our unresolved history. Yes, I can admit that we left things completely unresolved. And yes, it was my fault. And the pretence we had going on here was like a thin layer of ice that was melting under the pressure, and it had two choices. Melting out in a mellow fashion, or cracking and then shattering under the strain.

"It's great. Delicious." I put a spoonful of food in my mouth and nodded, chewed and swallowed, not really tasting anything. Burr made a sound much like a suppressed laugh and I looked over at him. He shook his head, and looked at Jay, I followed suit, only to make eye contact with two green lasers. Despite everything that had happened in the last two years, most of it consisting of breaking all contact with Jacob Edwards, I had the feeling that maybe, just maybe I could survive the dinner.

I would just need to stop looking at him, obviously. I had to keep from staring at him, sitting there in a shirt that he filled out nicely, his hair a little longer and combed respectively, I had to stop pondering whether his hair would be the same texture if I ran my fingers through it. Argh, it was impossible, Jay sitting there made me feel a little at odds with myself. I had to keep from reverting to the old habit of tugging on my hair. "An estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds." Fact blurting was one involuntary habit I couldn't shake however.

Jay's voice, something I never realised I'd missed, had the power to break the hold his appearance had on me, or at least to redirect it anyhow. "The diamond is the hardest natural substance on earth," my brown eyes met his once more, and his lips quirked in a familiar smirk. "Sort of like your heart, right Hunt?"

-

-

Kara was pulling away from me I could feel it. That sentence wasn't gay; it was a fact, a substantiated one at that. I wasn't too well versed in the behaviour of women in long-term relationships, as this was the only one I'd ever been in myself, but I'm pretty sure refusing to see me for weeks at a time wasn't normal behaviour.

"Where do you go when you're not here?" I asked, she was looking anywhere but at me, so I shifted so that I could take hold of her chin and focus her. "Kara."

"Work." She replied, ever since graduation it seemed as though we were slowly drifting apart. Then her parents moved to the Islands and she seemed less Kara and more spaced. I leaned down and kissed her, her response was instantaneous, pushing me back so that she was half on top of me, lips never breaking contact. My hand slid down her side to grab hold of her leg, pulling her so that she was straddling me. The moon streamed through our window, illuminating half of her face and sending the other into shadow as she pulled back, "You know I love you, yeah?" My voice hoarse as lust and love intermingled.

"Yeah." She replied, her eyes cast in shadow as she leaned back down to catch my lips with her own, her kisses frantic and intense, I didn't know that would be the last night we'd spend together. In the morning all that was left was the diamond drop necklace I'd bought her. She refused to return my calls, messages and wouldn't see me, I never did know if I'd done something wrong. Weeks turned into months and I eventually just sold the flat we had and took the promotion at work that meant endless hours at the office.

-

-

"Jay." Burr's warning tone brought me back to the now. It's funny, Kara had ripped my heart out twice now, and although her brown eyes were not quite apologetic across the table, I knew the jab stung.I shouldn't have cared, but I did. Once upon a time we hated each other, and then I fell for her. Somehow, I fell, hard.

"Kara knows I'm joking." I replied, no I wasn't.

"Nah yeah, he's ridiculously inadequate." Her eyes met mine for the third time, the brown orbs seeming to bore into mine. I don't understand why she was acting like the victim here; she left me, without an explanation, without even a word. So yeah, maybe I was pissed. Didn't I have the right to be fucked off?

"Thanks a lot, you could have told me that before I invested so much time in you." Was this really turning into a bitter angry fight about what happened over a year ago?

"Sorry I was such a failed investment." Kara stood up, "Thanks for dinner, Erin, Burr it was great. Nice to catch up."

"There she goes again, Kara the Great Coward." I sneered, "You weren't much of an asset were you?"

I'd only seen Kara cry once; when her dad had been in a car accident and was in critical condition. And I felt like a piece of shit for what happened next, "Asset. The word originates in the Latin "vestis", meaning garment, and refers to the act of putting things (money or other claims to resources) into others' pockets." She pulled something off her wrist and tossed it before me on the table. Is this what Burr and Erin had wanted? A showdown? I doubt they'd anticipated this, but Kara and I were obviously volatile elements. Looking at the object I realised it was the onyx bracelet I had gotten made for her on her 23rd birthday. I hadn't realised she'd kept it; I thought she'd have thrown it away. It wasn't worth nearly as much as the diamond necklace, or anything else I'd given her over the years.

Before I could respond she turned and walked away. I stood up, looking from Burr to Erin, "I'll speak to you two later." I missed the glance they gave each other, slightly worried and a little ashamed on Erin's part. Yes Erin, meddling doesn't often lead to success, sometimes it lead to more distress.

I followed her out, not before grabbing the bracelet, which was still a little warm from being on Kara's wrist, catching her as she reached the street, her phone to her ear. I could faintly hear her murmured, "Fucking pick up. Kae." It had been over a year since I'd seen her up close, not that I stalked her or anything, but when I saw her it was kind of obvious she avoided me.

She'd let her hair grow so that it fell down her back, and when she turned to face me having heard me near I let my eyes rove down her body, she never used to wear heels. "What?" Her voice, loaded with warning and frustration caught me by surprise, she snapped her phone shut. The sun had just set, the night bathed in a cloak of red, and I tore my gaze away from her to look up, not imploring for help. Just as a way to keep from snapping at her. I took a deep breath, exhaling as I walked towards her.

"We kinda just ruined the Smithsons' dinner." I informed her, knowing she was well aware of the fact. Her eyes, dark in the dwindling light never strayed from mine, like an animal that was waiting for the exact moment to bolt.

"It was their own fault." She replied, funny I'd been thinking the same thing.

"How've you been?" I asked, knowing there were so many other questions I had, but deciding that at this very moment I just wanted to know how she was.

There was no response, and I was about to fill in the silence when she finally said, "Magnetic fields determine how it is that electric currents, composed of moving electric charges, exert forces on other electric currents." We were less than a few inches from each other now, so I heard every word despite the how softly she spoke.

I should've expected I wouldn't get a straight answer but, "magnetic fields?" People change, and Kara had… in a sense changed. But in some respects she remained the same.

She continued, as though I hadn't spoken. "Two parallel wires, each with an electric current flowing in the same direction, by virtue of the magnetic field, will be pulled toward each other, they'll experience an attractive force." I had to keep from reaching out and touching her, all my anger, the bitterness was still there but that didn't stop me from wanting to touch her so badly that I had to fold my arms to keep them in check.

"You're explaining to me the way that magnetic fields determine how electric currents exert forces on other… electric currents?" The 'why' was implicit. Kara breathed out in what sounded like annoyance. I withheld a smile.

"If the currents are flowing in the opposite direction, then there will be a repulsive force between the wires."

"You're calling me repulsive?" Kara threw up her hands, pulling out her phone.

"No, I just- I don't know. Why are you even here?" Oh, wonderful a straight forward answer and question.

"Are you fucking kidding me? Kara, these are my friends too. If anything they were my friends first." Yes, I'd resorted to a very primary school argument. It was mine first.

"Look, it was nice seeing you." Lie. "But I've got work in the morning…" Lie.

"It's a Sunday."

"I have church." Lie.

"Not since your parents left the country."

"You don't know everything about me!"

"Don't I?"

This was ridiculous; we were fighting for no reason at all. Maybe it was just an innate reflex between us; if we weren't together we were at each other's throats.

"Why did you walk out on me?" I asked, she was right, maybe I didn't know everything about her. I didn't know why she would walk out on the good thing we had, because I remember being happy. Didn't she?

_

-

"Don't you?"

"Don't I what?" I shot back at Deacon, he'd flown up from Wellington just to see me.

"Come on Midge, don't you love him?" There was that L word again. It was so… gay. Gay did once upon a time exclusively mean happy.

"I… why are we talking about me? We're supposed to be deciding between the two girls you have the hots for." I nudged him; Deacon's blue eyes regarded me with solemnity. When did West get to serious?

"We know you're not normal and everything, but normal or not who just ups and leaves someone without a reason? Did he hit you?" I scoffed, as if that would fly. "Then what? Did he cheat on you?" He sounded ready to jump and speed over to Jay's if I had answered in the affirmative.

"No. Jebus man, can't a person just not want to be part of something?" I threw a chip at a seagull, at it, not to it. They were rats… with wings.

"Then what? There's gotta be some kind of reason, I mean- you guys defiled my bed. That's gotta count for something." He looked sick, I laughed. We hadn't even apologised for that.

"That was years ago! You don't even flat there anymore."

"I still had to sleep in that bed for the subsequent years." He grumbled, I highly doubted he had slept in his own bed every night.

We'd sat in silence staring out over the beach, an empty Mission Bay was a nice place to sit and ponder life. "Sand is classified as any particles between 0.125 and 2.0 millimeters." I grabbed a fistful and let it sift out of my fingers.

"I'm not being gay or anything but you guys had a good thing going. Aunty liked him, Uncle liked him- he bought me a birthday gift for my 21st that beat out yours." I laughed,

"That was a shared gift from the both of us." I wrinkled my nose, remembering how Jay insisted on getting Deacon the Xbox and I had insisted on getting him a haircut. My ribs still got sore thinking about how much I laughed that day; it occurred to me whilst living together that Jay had started becoming everything to me. And that, that was what scared me. I didn't want to be that dependant on someone, so I started spending less time with him, but when I was away I masked it well but I needed him. And when we were together I let the idea scare me enough into the decision to choose to cut myself off before it was too late.

-

-

"I don't know." I replied honestly, because what kind of answer was 'I needed to get out before you did?' We stood at an impasse. Jay wanting to have the talk I owed him the night I walked out on him while he slept, and me wanting to avoid the entire situation.

It remained like this until he sighed and pulled out his car keys, "Let me take you home." The urge to decline the offer was immediately at the tip of my tongue, and yet instead of the 'No' what came out was a 'you know where I live?'

His slightly embarrassed silence made me laugh a little, "Jacob Jay Edwards, are you stalking me?" I realised we'd been standing outside Erin's and Burr's house for more than an hour, it was dark and it warmed me to hear him laugh.

"In your dreams." He replied, "I parked down the street, come on." I didn't protest when his warm hand enclosed around mine.

"Cinnamon was strongly known throughout Ancient Rome as a "Rich man's" spice and was often worth more than gold." I divulged without a thought as he pulled up to the apartment I shared with Jess, who I was a little thankful for not answering my calls.

He killed the engine, on the way here we'd spoken about nothing, the big questions still looming, the unsaid things still poking at me every time I responded to an unimportant question.

"Thanks... for the ride." I said, turning to look at him for a brief moment. The streetlight illuminated his side of the car enough for me to gather that whatever was going on in his head right now wasn't as light-hearted as our casual banter.

He finally looked at me, not saying anything before pulling something out of his pocket. "This is yours." He said quietly, holding out the onyx bracelet. I hadn't noticed how naked my wrist felt without it until I saw it.

"Jay…"

"I still don't understand." He said again, "And I'm not going to pretend like I haven't been with anyone else in the last year, because I have." I knew that.

"That's good." I said with false cheer.

"No it's not Kara." I felt the pins and needles at the base of my neck, "Don't you get it? I love you. Didn't that mean anything?" I got confused, he used present tense and then switched to past.

I tried to make a joke, but the thought died on my lips. I reached out and took the bracelet from his hand, and failed to hook the latch. I stared down at my hands, trying not to grow frustrated with the clip, I almost flinched when his fingers took the latch, grazing against my hands sending stupid tingles up my arm. When he's hooked the bracelet back together he sat back, and I looked up, my hands feeling bereft of his.

"It meant everything to me." I finally responded. He didn't say anything, and I knew that if I didn't say what I had to say now, I'd never get the (metaphorical) balls to do it again. "I loved you too," murmuring, "still do." I didn't dare look him in the eye, because I didn't want to give him false hope, or myself for that matter. I knew I had hurt him when I walked out, and being the sensible one here (ha) I was knew that I didn't deserve the second chance that I wanted.

"But I, I'm still trying to grow up Jay. I'm not worth this heartache, I'll mess up multiple times… just look at the mess I made of us." I looked at him then, his face was set in the stony mask he used to use often, the one that during college was what he showed to everyone. "We don't match up. I'm…. I looked down at my bracelet; I'm made of onyx. And you're pure diamond."

He didn't respond, I leaned over and kissed his cheek. He didn't move, his eyes squeezing shut from what I could see in the dark. I opened the door to leave, "That's the biggest load of bullshit I've ever heard in my life." His voice was hoarse, steely; I looked back frowning at being called a liar when I had just told him the truth behind my actions.

"You're being a dick."

"No, you are. You're being a dick Kara." Oh now he just sounded like a girl, "You're too caught up in trying not to be the one left looking like an idiot that you fuck over everyone in the end." I got out of the car,

"Go home." He didn't listen; instead he got out of the car too.

"I'm right, you're such a coward!" I did not like being called a coward, even if he was right. "All this shit about stones, semiprecious, precious, it's all fucking stupid. You're such a fucking head case that you'd screw up the only mature relationship either of us have ever had." He walked towards me, my hands were curling into fists and I was fighting the urge not to lash out at him. "You're an eatass. Fucking kaea." Did he just swear at me in Samoan?

"You can't use my own swearwords at me." I said sternly, "Go home Jay. Thank you for the ride, have a nice life." I turned to leave, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back.

"How can you tell me you love me and then tell me to go home?" He asked, voice little more than a growl, we stood beside his car on the sidewalk, dimly lit by the streetlight. I stared up at him, well glared.

"Because if you don't leave, I'm not going to be responsible for my actions." Volatile was probably the best way to describe us, and perhaps there was stability in our futures, whether it was together or not, but for now?

We were both grasping for each other within the minute, desperation literally taking over. His hands grabbing hold of me, my arms wrapping tightly around his neck, our lips melding together as though they'd never been apart for months, as if they'd never kissed another person. He pulled and I reciprocated until I was utterly against him, his hands finding their way under my shirt. And then all of a sudden we weren't even touching anymore, both breathing haggardly and avoiding eye contact. "The average person takes in 21,600 breaths per day." I breathed, voice betraying my surprise.

"It's because the body requires 88 pounds of oxygen per day." Jay responded, adding, "Still want me to go home?"

I didn't say anything at first, instead I reached up and kissed him again. He had a point, semiprecious or precious or not, onyx and diamond, it didn't matter did it? It was just something I latched on to in the attempt to pry myself away from him.

"Yes." I finally replied, "Go home, we'll… talk tomorrow." And we did.


A/N:

Hi hi! Right so here I am with something I wasn't supposed to be writing. I know someone wanted a Deacon and Kara oneshot/alt ending… and that is most definitely in the works but this one sorta just… wrote itself and then I had to force an ending out. Oh and I haven't proof-read/edited it, I'm exhausted. Now to write an essay due this Thursday.

So, let me know what ya think. Like? Dislike? Loathe? What you expected, didn't expect? Mata. Out.

This goes out to TOWAAF and everyone else that will read and hate or love it.

Oh and if you voted for Rocked Like Me for SKoW's most humourous (complete) story, thanks so much! Sorry this didn't have as much humour in it.