A/N: AW HELL YEAH. I FINALLY BROKE 10,000 WORDS IN A ONESHOT. HA. THAT'S SO...SAD.
...ahem. Anyway. So, yeah. Here's another oneshot for you guys. I have a few things to point out before we start:
1.) This is techincally the sequel to King's Countenance. OH YES. GASP. I have never, ever, ever (EVER!) written a sequel oneshot for a different oneshot, but I really liked these characters and I wanted to write more about them so here it is. You don't have to read KC to read this, but if you want more of a backstory on their kiss, or Aubrey and Paige's fight, or anything like that then I recommend reading it. BY THE WAY, I forgot that KC was in first person. I would've written this one from Paige's perspective, too, but I didn't realize that the other one was until about halfway through and I didn't feel like restarting. So there you have it.
2.) The movie Definitely, Maybe is mentioned in here. If you haven't seen it, it's basically about a man (Will) and his daughter (Maya). Maya's parents are getting divorced, and she wants to know the story of how they met. Her father agrees to tell her, but he changes all the names and makes her guess which of his three serious girlfriends is her mother. You don't find out until the end who the mother is. I SWEAR TO GOD I did not base Paige off of April. I didn't even notice how scarily similar they were until I decided to put that scene in there. Weird, right? Anyway, it's a good movie. You should watch it.
3.) Dave Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana. When Kurt Cobain died and the band disbanded, he formed his own band, The Foo Fighters, of which he is the lead singer and main guitarist.
4.) Knowledge Bowl is a club for super smart kids. It's basically a team of people that go to these competitions and answer random questions. Sort of like Jeopardy, I guess - you have to have a really vast realm of knowledge. Hence the name knowledge bowl, heh.
5.) This is incredibly cheesy. You've been warned.
That's it! Hope you guys enjoy! (I spent forever on this, so that's why I haven't been updating. I'll update Lover Boy soon, I promise!)
This is part TWO of the Howley/Davidson Trilogy.
Read part one: ht tp:/ww w.f ictionpre ss . co m/ s/28791 10/1/Ki ngs_Co untenance
Read part three: htt p:/ /w ww .f iction pres s. co m/s/29 611 79/1/Nobl e_i n_Reason
"Did you hear?"
"Paige and Madison are dating? What the hell?"
"Doesn't she hate him? I thought he hated her, too."
"Howley landed Davidson? How did that happen?"
Paige Davidson scowled as she paraded through the high school hallways. The whispers and stares of her classmates were really starting to get on her nerves – did they think she couldn't hear what they were saying? Yes, she was going out with Madison Howley. Yes, she hated him. Yes, he hated her, too.
So how did those three things work together, exactly…? Well, here's how. For some unknown reason, Madison kissed Paige. And for an even greater unknown reason, she kissed him back. And Madison's insane twin sister, who happened to be Paige's best friend, found out. And then she proceeded to threaten the two of them until they agreed to start dating.
You see, Aubrey Howley had always been on team Madison plus Paige. She had just never mentioned it to either of them, because they despised each other so much that it seemed they'd never come out of denial mode. But when she found out the shocking truth that they'd shared a kiss, she put her plan into action. She'd grown up with the two of them, so she had a lot of dirt on their lives, and she basically blackmailed them into promising they'd give it a shot for at least a month. After that, they could break up or stay together, their choice.
Paige had snorted at that. Break up or stay together? There was no question – they'd break up and be done with each other as soon as that month was up. She sighed, remembering the fateful conversation that started it all.
"Nothing. Nothing happened!"
"You guys totally kissed! I heard you talking about it."
"I told you never to mention it again! God, you're so stupid!"
"Well excuse me, but this is all your fault. I wasn't the one who kissed you! You forced yourself on me, remember?"
"Well, but – you! You hugged me first! And I was deprived; it was the hormones!"
"Of course you were deprived. No girl would ever give it to you. No wonder you're so horny all the time."
"I am not! And I seem to recall that YOU gave it to me, so – "
"Don't be ridiculous, I was in an emotionally compromised state! You took advantage of me."
"Wha – "
"WILL YOU TWO STOP ARGUING FOR A MINUTE? I have a proposition for you…"
It didn't make much sense in the grand scheme of things. If Paige and Madison hated each other, why did they kiss in the first place? Why did they feel the need to listen to Aubrey's demands if she was just a cheery, blonde, seventeen year old girl? And the biggest question of all: why hadn't Paige beaten the snot out of those gossips yet?
"I can hear you," she shouted in no particular direction. The crowds hushed and she rolled her eyes. She quickly opened her locker to retrieve some textbooks, and when she turned to go to class she was face to face with him.
Yes, him. As in…her boyfriend. She shuddered at the word; a week ago she didn't even consider Madison a friend, let alone a boyfriend. She frowned at the way his dorky glasses were sliding down his face, and how his always unruly hair was sticking up in every possible direction.
"Can't you tidy up a bit?" she spat, irritated. "If we're going to date then you need to step up your act. I don't associate with slobs."
Madison glared. "I'm sorry, but I didn't realize that you were so picky about appearances," he said. He ran a hand through his curly blonde hair in an attempt to tame it. "It's not like we're boyfriend and girlfriend by choice, anyway."
"Right," Paige said. "So what do you want?" They didn't usually approach each other unless absolutely necessary.
"Well," Madison rolled his chocolate brown eyes, "People have obviously heard about our…arrangement. And you know Aubrey will slit our throats if we don't make it convincing. So I thought we could walk to class together."
Paige stared. "You want to walk me to class?"
"I don't want to walk you to class, but people will think it's weird if we ignore each other. We're supposed to be dating."
"We are dating."
"Exactly. So come on." Madison grabbed Paige's hand and forced it into his own. He began walking to class, dragging Paige along with him.
Normally she would complain about being pulled around, but instead she jogged to keep up with him and kept her mouth shut. She didn't want to piss off Aubrey by not cooperating. That girl got scary when she was mad.
"We don't have first period together," she pointed out.
"I know that," Madison said with an air of mockery.
Paige scoffed and tried not to think about the fact that their intertwined fingers were making her stomach feel all fluttery. She hated Madison, a lot, but that didn't mean she wasn't attracted to him a little. Stupid hormones.
They stopped in front of her first period class, Ms. Bloom's English course, and Paige looked at the boy next to her curiously.
"How'd you know I had Bloom first period?" she asked. She didn't think he cared about her schedule.
"Because I know everything," he said, releasing her hand from his grip and turning to face her. Paige sighed; the statement was actually pretty accurate. Madison was the smartest person she knew.
She made a move to enter the class, but Madison cleared his throat and nervously looked around.
"What?" she asked sharply.
He motioned with his head to the couples all around them, hugging and/or kissing goodbye before parting ways.
She followed his gaze and rolled her eyes. "Fine," she said before wrapping her arms around him. He did the same and gave her an awkward pat on the back.
When she pulled away, he made a move to kiss her, but she put her hand over his mouth. "Ah," she said. "Don't push it."
"Right. Sorry." He released her and she disappeared into class. After one last glance in his girlfriend's direction, Madison shook his head and walked away.
"I just feel so bad, you know?" Aubrey prattled on.
"Mmhmm," Paige mumbled. She and Aubrey were at the Howley residence, watching old SNL reruns and catching up with each other. They hadn't spent a whole lot of time together recently, mostly because of the big fight they just got out of.
"I shouldn't have been so quick to blame you, but…I just…well, I just felt sort dejected. I mean, you started going to a bunch of parties, and most of the time I didn't want to come with because I'm not big on partying and…and then you became friends with all of these really cool people, and I felt like I was being ditched. I was just upset that we were drifting apart, you know? Like you didn't care about me anymore."
Aubrey frowned. "Like right now. You're not even listening to me, are you, Paige?"
Paige turned to face her best friend and sighed. "It's not that I'm not listening, it's just that you've told me this a thousand times already. It's forgotten, remember? And I do care about you, A. You're my best friend. You always will be."
The blonde girl breathed deeply. "Well," she said. "You're my best friend, too. And I feel terrible about what I did to you. And that's why I'm making it up to you."
Paige's green eyes widened. "What? You don't have to do that – "
"Yes, I do," Aubrey said. The girl pulled a small slip of paper out of her pocket and thrust it into her friend's hands. "Here."
"What is this?" Paige examined what she'd just been given. "Holy shit – a ticket to the Foo Fighters concert? I fucking love you, Aubrey Nicole."
Aubrey beamed. "I know," she said. "It would've been Nirvana, but, well, Kurt Cobain's kind of dead and I figured this was the next best thing."
"Wow. This is…wow. Thanks," she said.
"No problem. I'm sure you and Madison will have a wonderful time."
Paige froze. She and Madison?
"What did you just say?"
"Oh," Aubrey said cheerfully. She fully knew that Paige would not be happy with what she was about to say, but she grinned as she broke the news anyway. "I'm not taking you. Madison is. You guys deserve a really nice date."
Paige immediately went on a rampage. "Why in the world did you think I would like this? That is the dumbest assumption ever! I don't want to go anywhere with your jackass of a brother, let alone a concert!"
"I know you don't," Aubrey said. "But you guys are going out, remember? You have to go on some dates. That was part of the deal. And I know you want to go to that concert. Dave Grohl is calling to you."
"I hate you," Paige spat. Aubrey only laughed.
"You'll thank me later," she winked. "Trust me."
"I think we should…you know…go on a date."
Paige gave the boy sitting across from her an incredulous look. "Why?" she asked. "We're already going to that stupid concert in a few weeks."
"Don't remind me," Madison groaned. He wasn't a huge fan of Dave Grohl or Paige Davidson. "But tomorrow is Valentine's Day, remember? And we're a couple, so we should probably go out for dinner or something."
The girl sighed. He had a good point, as usual. She hated the way he was always right.
"Fine," she said. "Take me to Olive Garden."
"Excuse me? Don't I get a say in this?"
He hated the way she was always bossing him around.
They glared at each other.
"Hey guys!" Aubrey appeared at the lunch table with a full plate of food. "What's the haps?" she asked cheerily.
"Nothing," Paige grumbled. "Discussing stupid plans for tomorrow."
"Oh, right!" Aubrey clapped her hands together, as if this were a good thing. "Tomorrow's Valentine's Day! Where are you guys going to go?"
"Olive Garden," Madison said, giving Paige a pointed look. She said nothing, only stared in surprise. She hadn't expected him to cave so easily.
"Fun," Aubrey whined. "I'm probably just going to go home and wallow in self pity and chocolate ice cream."
"You could've come with us," Paige said with an eye roll, "But noooo, you want us to have a 'perfect date.' Right, like that's going to happen."
"It will happen," Aubrey said. "At least, it better. If my brother doesn't treat you right then I'll punch him."
Madison flinched. "What? You should be worrying about how she treats me, not the other way around."
"Whatever," his sister said. "You guys argue way too much. If you just managed to have a regular conversation you might find that you actually like each other."
Paige scoffed. Madison snorted.
"I'm serious. Paige, you're my best friend. Madison, you're my twin brother. I get along great with both of you, and I know for a fact that if you just set aside your differences you two would be great friends."
"Yeah, okay," Paige said sarcastically.
"Can we drop the subject, please?" Madison asked. He pushed up his glasses in irritation.
"Whatever you say, dear Brother," Aubrey grinned. "Hey, Paigey, wanna sleep over after your date?" She waggled her eyebrows. "That way, no matter what happens, you'll be coming home with Maddie-kins. And hey, if you decide you want to spend the night in his room instead of mine, I won't be mad; in fact, I – "
"Oh my god. Aubrey, please stop talking."
"Aw, come on. You guys are no fun," she pouted. Neither Paige nor Madison's fierce gaze faltered. Aubrey sighed. "Fine," she said. "Come on Paige, let's go to class. See you later, Mads."
The date was going horribly.
They had just gotten their food, and Madison had already managed to correct Paige's pronunciation of the Italian terms on the menu. He'd also had time to tell her of the correct origin of St. Valentine's Day when she called it a "stupid holiday for people to flaunt their relationships," and had called her out on ordering a Caesar salad in an attempt to be healthy.
"I'm telling you," he said. "That salad has more calories in it than the pizza you were going to order."
"Do you have to correct every fucking thing I do or say?" Paige yelled. "It's annoying as hell."
"Well maybe I wouldn't have to correct you all the time if you weren't so stupid. And why do you feel the need to swear every five seconds?"
"Because the only way I can express how angry you make me feel is by cursing like a fucking sailor," she spat viciously.
"Well the only way I can express how much you frustrate me is by setting you straight."
"Fine, but you don't have to do it in such a condescending tone."
"You never speak to me in a nice tone, either," Madison said.
Paige crossed her arms, knowing this was true and not bothering to counter. After five minutes of eating in uncomfortable silence, she huffed, "This is all your fault."
"You're the one who blabbed about what happened. If Aubrey hadn't of found out about the kiss, then we wouldn't be in this mess."
"Well if you hadn't of kissed me in the first place, she couldn't have found out because it never would've happened. So you're the one to blame here."
"Fine," he admitted. "But still. Why'd you have to go and talk about it in my house where she was bound to overhear?"
"Why did you have to attack my face with your lips?"
Madison rolled his eyes. Paige missed the slight blush that rose on his face, but it was there all right. "You're over exaggerating," he said. "And I already told you. I was…you were…It's been like a year since my last relationship, okay?"
"So you just thought I looked hot and decided to ruin my life by kissing me to satisfy your disgusting boyish fantasies?" she asked.
"Well, yeah, I guess," he said sheepishly.
Paige stared at him. "You think I'm hot?"
He stared back. "Paige, everyone thinks you're hot. You're the school's resident sexy bitch."
She couldn't help it – she grinned. Sexy Bitch was a good title, in her opinion. "Well," she said. "You're the school's resident know-it-all nerd."
"Thanks," Madison replied sarcastically.
"So why did you kiss me back?" he asked suddenly. "I've been wondering that for weeks. It's been driving me crazy."
Paige was taken aback. She wasn't quite comfortable with the question – mostly because she didn't know the answer. "I don't know," she said. "You had just helped me win back Aubrey's trust, and I was grateful, and…I guess I just felt a random surge of affection for you. It was weird."
"That is weird."
They sat in an awkward silence for a moment, examining each other with calculating gazes, until a waitress came by to pick up their cleared plates.
"Can I get you anything else?" she asked in an overly cheery tone.
"No, thanks," Paige said, tearing her eyes away from the boy sitting across from her. The dinner was getting weird, and she wasn't okay with that. "Just a check."
"Alright," the waitress said as she sauntered off to get their bill.
"We better get back home," Madison said after paying for dinner. "Aubrey's probably on the brink of falling asleep, and I know she wanted to see you before going to bed."
"Right," she replied.
The car ride back to the Howleys' house wasn't as uncomfortable as Paige thought it was going to be. It was just like any other time she had to deal with Madison – they argued about what music to listen to; they argued about whether the heat or the air conditioning should be on; they argued about Madison's driving. Basically, they rubbed each other raw, which in Paige's mind was completely normal when it came to the two of them.
When they arrived at Aubrey and Madison's house, Paige was exhausted. She was ready to just collapse on her best friend's bed and sleep until morning.
"Aubrey, we're home," Paige called up the stairs as they entered the house. Unfortunately, nobody answered. "Huh. Maybe she's already asleep."
"Aubrey!" Madison bellowed up the stairwell. "Aubrey, the house is on fire!"
"That usually wakes her up," Madison said. "She must not be asleep. Maybe she's in the bathroom?"
"No," Paige said. "Look at this."
She gestured to a sticky-note she had just noticed that had been stuck to the railing of the staircase.
"Dearest Brother, Dearest Bestie," Madison read with brows furrowed. "Danny Rivers asked me to be his Valentine and so I am having dinner with him. Madison, this is the part where you be a gentleman and ask Paige to watch romantic comedies with you until I get home. Be back later, lovelies! Best wishes, Aubrey."
"She set this up," Paige pouted. "She's trying to force us together as much as humanly possible."
Madison frowned and crumpled up the little sticky note. "Isn't Danny Rivers gay?"
Paige shrugged and immediately made her way to the fridge. The Howleys always had the best snacks, including her favorite thing ever – Yoplait Yogurt.
"Really?" Madison asked when he noticed what she was doing. "Is eat all you ever do?"
"Yes," Paige said as she stuffed her face with yogurt. "I like eating. Now go put a movie in."
"What? You're not just going to wait for Aubrey in her room?"
"She might not be home for a while," she said, taking a seat on the couch in front of the TV. "The best way to pass the time is by watching a movie. And this way we don't really have to talk to each other, either. We can just sit and stare at the screen."
"I guess," Madison said. "What should we watch?"
"Something good. Got anything with Ryan Reynolds in it? He's sexy," Paige suggested. Madison rolled his brown eyes and searched the movie shelf for anything with the aforementioned actor.
"We have Definitely, Maybe," he said. "Or The Proposal. I think that's it."
"Aubrey and I watched The Proposal last weekend," Paige said. "And I haven't seen that other one, so let's watch that."
Madison frowned. "It's a chick flick," he said.
"Just put it in, you big baby."
He did as he was told (surprisingly) and took a seat on the couch as far away from Paige as possible.
They watched the movie in silence for a while, and it seemed that Paige's theory that they wouldn't have to interact was a good one, until they started arguing again.
"The mom is totally April," Paige said, referring to the movie. "It has to be. She's the best!"
"No," Madison said. "Emily's the mom."
"No! April is. I mean how could he not marry her? She's the hottest, and she loves Nirvana, and she's fucking hilarious. Emily's a bitch. She cheated on him!"
Madison should've known that Paige would favor April. The character was a fiery redhead with an intense love for Kurt Cobain. He had never noticed how similar Paige actually was to the girl in the movie until that point.
"I've seen this movie before, Paige," Madison rebuked. "I know that the mother is Emily. Not April. Not even Summer."
"Well…but…you jerk!" She hit him with a pillow.
"You didn't have to go and crush my hopes and dreams," she whined. "You just ruined the whole movie for me. I was having fun guessing."
"Will you relax?" Madison suggested. "It's not that big of a deal. Now stop talking, you're missing the movie."
She stopped complaining for a while, and they actually made it a decent way through the movie, but then Will stopped speaking to April and Paige started blabbing again.
"Nooo!" she shouted. "I was convinced you were lying about Emily being the mom because…they just have such good chemistry! How could he do that to her? How could she do that to him? Tell me why!"
"Will you shut up?" Madison shouted. "You're screaming in my ear. Just watch the movie. You'll see what happens."
"Well you already told me what happens, so now I've got nothing to look forward to. Asshole."
"I didn't tell you what happens; I just told you who the mom is. There's a difference."
"No," Paige spat. "The whole premise of the movie is that she wants the story of how her dad met her mom, and she has to guess which girl she is in the story. And you just ruined that for me."
"Well, you ruined my childhood by becoming best friends with my sister."
"You ruined my childhood by telling everyone in our class that I had cooties."
"You ruined my first date by pretending to be a waitress and spilling spaghetti sauce all over Candace Wrigley."
"You ruined the 7th grade math curve by having such good grades. I failed that class because of you."
"…You ruined my science fair project by getting in a fight with my sister," he countered.
"That was your choice, bucko."
"The fight wasn't."
"But the science fair was. And you got your fancy scholarship, so that doesn't count," Paige said.
"Fine. You ruined my night by being a total bitch," he shot loudly.
"Well, you ruined my self confidence by calling me an ugly ginger in the third grade!"
Madison faltered – he didn't know that had affected her so much. He hardly even remembered it – and it seemed to him like Paige had great self confidence. Her outburst of, "I'm not a ginger; my hair is strawberry blonde, DUMMY!" back when they were eight contributed to that thought. Apparently, though, he'd been wrong.
She was fuming. Bickering with Madison made all the old arguments resurface. She really, really despised that boy. He treated her like shit.
"Sorry," he said quietly.
"I'm sorry," Madison shrugged. "I shouldn't have called you that. It was mean."
"Yes," Paige said, narrowing her eyes. "It was mean."
"Well, to be fair, you're not the nicest person in the world, either."
"Yeah, you said that already!"
"Well it's true. You didn't even say 'I forgive you' or 'it's okay' or anything like that," Madison began to raise his voice once again.
"That's because I don't forgive you, and it's not okay. Because of that comment, I went through elementary and middle school feeling like shit."
"I said I was sorry!"
"You know what? Fuck you."
The two stared at each other, seething with anger. And for the weirdest, most inexplicable reason in the world, Madison felt the sudden urge to kiss her again. Hard.
So he did. At first she was surprised, but after a split second Paige grabbed his shirt collar and pulled him closer. One hand tousled his messy blonde curls and the other gripped his shirt as she kissed him roughly, and soon he was nearly on top of her.
With her back pressed against the arm of the couch, they battled for dominance as his tongue massaged hers. Neither of them could believe what was happening, but the kiss was so damn good that they didn't dare stop.
And then the sound of someone unlocking the front door rang through the house and Paige pushed Madison off of her and onto the ground.
He landed with a thud just as Aubrey walked in the house.
"I'm home!" she sang happily, totally unaware of what had been going on. She noticed her brother on the ground and gave him a quizzical look. "Madison, what are you doing on the floor?"
"Um," he said. "I was taking a nap."
She looked at the clock on the wall. "It's ten thirty at night. If you're tired, why didn't you just go to bed?" she asked.
"Oh, well, I was watching a movie with Paige." Aubrey looked at her best friend for confirmation. Paige nodded vigorously, hoping that in the dark lighting her deep blush wasn't visible.
"That's really funny because it looks like the movie is over," Aubrey said, pointing at the TV screen. The credits were rolling. Paige stared; she had completely forgotten they were even watching it. And she wanted to see the end of that, too!
"It just ended," Paige said quickly. She got up from the couch (subconsciously wiping her mouth as she did so) and grabbed Aubrey's arm. "Come on, let's go to bed."
"Okay," Aubrey said with a shrug. "Good night, Maddie!"
When she turned around, Aubrey found that her best friend had already sprinted up the stairs without a word to her brother. She laughed and followed her, figuring it was just Paige being anti-social.
Once they were gone, Madison rolled over onto his stomach and groaned. What was he getting himself into?
Over the next few weeks, Madison and Paige struggled to make their "relationship" work. It was getting a little better – they went to the Foo Fighters concert and actually had a decent time despite Madison's complaints, and he had started lightly kissing her goodbye when they parted for class at school. This was groundbreaking for both of them (and for Aubrey, who was so excited she nearly fainted), but Paige made sure to never let him kiss her the way he did on Valentine's Day again. She never liked PDA, and she was afraid that if she let it get that far again it might lead to other things – things that she'd surely regret.
Despite their growing physical fondness for each other, Paige and Madison were still constantly arguing. Paige told herself that nothing had changed between the two of them, but she knew that wasn't true.
"See, I told you," Aubrey said one day as they were walking to class. "You're warming up to each other."
"We are not," Paige protested.
"Yes, you are," the blonde stated. "You guys hold hands when you walk down the halls together. You let him kiss you goodbye. You still argue all the time, but not nearly as often, and you stopped calling him 'Ass-wipe' and started calling him Madison."
"You like him. Admit it."
"I do not. I still hate him. And I only let him kiss me because people would talk if I didn't, and he's a good kisser. So…there."
"Since when did you care what other people think? You're so not proving anything, Paige," Aubrey said. And then, "Wait, is he really a good kisser?"
"You don't want to hear about that, do you? He's your brother."
"Right…ew. Gross. Let's change the subject."
"Gladly," Paige said. The pair of friends reached the math classroom and took their seats near the back of the room.
Within five minutes Paige was passed out on her desk. Math was always her worst subject, and the one she found most boring, so she almost never paid attention during class. It took a toll on her grades, but she always made sure to copy Aubrey's notes and get the assignments done sooner or later. She slept too often in class; her body was used to the short nap at that time of day, and so it was easier for her to just snooze away while the teacher lectured.
Aubrey watched her friend sleep with a small smile on her face. That girl was falling hard for her brother, whether she'd admit it or not. And she had a feeling that he felt the same way – it was only a matter of time before her plan came to fruition.
A poke. A prod. No response.
"Paiiiiigeeeeeee," Aubrey whined. Still nothing. "Paige! Class is over!"
"Huh? What?" Paige's face surfaced from underneath the mess that was her hair. She yawned. "Oh," she said, embarrassed. "Hi."
"I can't believe you slept through the entire class period again," the blonde said, rolling her eyes at Paige's disheveled appearance. "You're going to fail the next test."
"Yeah," Paige replied. She seemed distracted, but Aubrey let it pass.
"Come on, let's go to lunch," she said.
"Um!" Paige's green eyes widened in realization of something – what that something was, Aubrey had no idea. "I forgot about an assignment I need to do in the library. You can go on down without me."
Aubrey gave her friend a strange look. "Okay," she said. "I'll tell Madison you're working on homework."
"Yes. You do that." Paige stood and waved goodbye to Aubrey as she walked out the door. As soon as her friend was out of sight, she broke into a run – she needed to get to where she could be alone.
She'd had a weird dream during her nap. Thinking about it made her face flush and her stomach feel funny – the dream had involved Madison. And it was rather, er, sensual.
"Fuck," Paige mumbled to herself as she took a seat at one of the computers in the library. She couldn't believe what had just happened; and in the middle of class, too! Right next to Aubrey! It was a good thing the girl couldn't read minds, because she did not want anyone to know about the dream.
Feeling confused and conflicted, Paige signed onto the school server and tried to find something on the computer to distract herself with. It wasn't working. No matter what, she kept thinking back to the stupid dream about Madison Howley.
Now, Paige wasn't one of those sex-crazed sluts or anything like that, but she definitely wasn't a virgin. However, she almost never had erotic dreams – it just wasn't something that happened very often – so she was shocked. And appalled. And disgusted. Absolutely horrified.
Her subconscious was trying to tell her something – but what could it be? That she was attracted to Madison? Because that much she already knew. She was afraid that the dream meant something more, something beyond just physical desire. Could she actually be falling for him?
No. That was ridiculous.
In order to make herself feel better (and to have an excuse to avoid Madison for the rest of the day), she stayed in the library and opened up a blank word document. Paige was a list-maker. When she was feeling befuddled or in a slump, she made lists.
This list was titled Dating Madison Howley and had two columns: Pros and Cons.
She put the cursor under cons to start. She was feeling in the mood to bash on him. "Let's see here," she mumbled to herself. And then she started typing.
He's a smart ass. He corrects everything I say. He wears dorky glasses. He never brushes his hair.
He hates my favorite band. He complains too much. He's smarter than me, but not that much taller.
He holds grudges; he doesn't listen to what I say; he's convinced that my hair is red.
He thinks I'm stupid. He's an elitist. He makes references to things that he knows I don't understand.
He's Aubrey's brother, which is too cliché. Come on.
She typed and typed until her brain was exhausted and had no more ideas. Looking over the list, she felt satisfied, but it wasn't as long as she thought it would be. She had hated Madison for a long time, so why was her list of things that irritated her about him so short?
She begrudgingly moved onto the next column – the Pros.
He's kind of cute, she began. He has a nice smile. He's one hell of a kisser.
He helped me win Aubrey back even though he admitted that not having me around was better for him.
He knows what he's talking about. Always.
His fridge is full of Yoplait yogurts.
He knows everything about me. He gives me butterflies. He's honest.
He smells good. My parents love him. He's Aubrey's brother.
The lists were about the same length…and Paige couldn't figure out which one outweighed the other. This was problematic. She needed to know if she actually liked Madison or if that was just her silly imagination.
Her inner musings were interrupted by the sound of someone clearing his throat behind her. She spun around and saw a certain blonde haired, brown eyed boy looking at her.
"What are you doing?" Madison asked, eyeing the computer screen curiously.
"What? Nothing." Paige blushed and quickly exited out of the document without saving. She definitely didn't need anyone seeing that. Especially not him. "What are you doing?"
Madison shrugged sheepishly. "Aubrey said you were doing homework, which of course I didn't believe one bit, so I came to see what was up," he admitted.
Paige stared. The way he said that made it sound like he actually cared about her.
"Well," she said awkwardly. She was still embarrassed about the dream. "I just finished what I needed to…uh…work on. So I'll come downstairs with you." There was no point in trying to avoid him anymore. She'd just have to tough it out and pretend the dream had never happened.
"Alright," he said. Paige stood, and when Madison held his hand out for her to hold, she hesitantly took it. As soon as contact was made, she felt tingles run up and down her arm and that familiar sickening feeling in her stomach.
Shit, she thought. This is bad.
They walked down to the cafeteria, where Aubrey gave Paige an "I-told-you-so" sort of look and said, "Ah, you kids are so cute." With a smug grin and a laugh, she emphasized her point by repeating herself.
"So, so cute," she said. And Paige couldn't even find the words to deny it.
"So, you've been dating Madison for a while now, haven't you?"
Paige stared at her father. "Um, I guess," she said. It hadn't been that long, had it?
"I still don't get it," Paige's younger sister, Grace, said. "You guys can't spend five minutes together without wanting to kill each other. How'd you go from that to dating?"
Yes, it was common knowledge in the Davidson household how much Paige loathed Madison. It was also common knowledge that her parents were actually much fonder of the boy than they were of their own daughter – so it was no surprise that they were way too excited when they found out the two were dating. Paige hated to break her parents' hearts, but there was no way she was sticking with him for longer than necessary. Speaking of which, how long had it been?
"Beats me," Paige said as she took a bite of her grilled cheese sandwich. "So, what day did we get together again?"
Mrs. Davidson gave her eldest daughter an incredulous look. "You don't know your own anniversary?" she asked. "And you're asking us if we know it? Honey, we didn't even hear that you were an item until a few weeks ago when Aubrey told us."
Ugh. Aubrey. That girl needed to learn how to keep her mouth shut.
"I just thought I'd try asking," Paige said with a shrug. "It's got to be coming up soon…" she mumbled as an afterthought.
"What is?" Grace nosily asked. She'd always been an inquisitive one. That pissed Paige off quite a bit, which was why they weren't exactly the best of friends. Far from it, actually.
"Oh, our, uh, monthaversary?" She didn't know if there was a word for that. Madison would probably know. She could ask him later.
"Are you doing anything special on that day?" Paige's dad asked.
Just, you know, breaking up. She couldn't say that. She didn't even know if it was true – there was a slight chance that they'd, say, forget and continue dating for a little while longer. Okay, no. There wasn't even that. Madison probably had the day marked on his fucking calendar.
Anyway, a normal dad would ask so he could make sure his baby girl wasn't being corrupted by teenage boys, but Mr. Davidson was most likely just asking because he was curious. Paige sighed. Why couldn't she have normal parents?
"I don't know," she answered quickly. "I think I'll go to bed…" She stood up and pushed in her chair.
"It's seven thirty," Mrs. Davidson pointed out. "Are you sick?"
"No, just tired." Tired of family interrogation night, that is.
"Well, alright." Her parents gazed at her worriedly as she cleared her plate from the table. Grace watched her with a dismayed look as she ascended the stairs, so Paige flipped her off when their parents weren't watching.
In the safety of her room, Paige wasn't really going to bed – obviously. She just wanted to get away from her curious family for a while. Of course, now that she was away, she had nothing to do. Sighing, she took a seat at her desk and turned on the computer.
When in doubt, facebook stalk.
As she looked through the news feed, she thought she might as well check to see when she and Madison got together officially. She hadn't wanted to put it up on facebook, but she'd accidentally left her profile page open at Aubrey's house and the girl had taken it upon herself to change her relationship status. Paige would've changed it back, but there was really no point. It was already out by that time.
She scrolled through her recent posts until she saw that disgusting red heart and those nine stupid words: Paige Davidson is in a relationship with Madison Howley.
Why did people feel the need to advertise their relationships on facebook, anyway? So they could gloat, or brag, and tell the world "BACK OFF, BITCH, HE'S MINE"? Paige sighed. Not bothering to acknowledge the 57 comments the post had (most of which were from Aubrey, by the looks of it), Paige checked to see what date it was from. February 2nd, it said.
It was February 26th. That left a mere three days until their month was up.
Paige wasn't so sure how she felt about that.
If Paige was unsure, Madison was unsure-er. Yes, he was aware that wasn't a word. He wasn't stupid, like somebody he knew.
Anyway…the point was that Madison didn't know what to do. In three days, he'd be free – thank God – but there was something telling him that maybe breaking up with Paige wasn't the best idea. And no, he didn't mean Aubrey, although she sure wasn't holding back on talking up her best friend.
He didn't like Paige – no way. That would just be preposterous. But…well…he didn't mind having someone to hold hands with and walk to class and kiss goodbye. Even if it was Paige Davidson. And hey, in the past few weeks, she'd proven to be not as terrible as he had originally thought. But still, she was pretty terrible. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
So. Three days. He was going to do it. He was going to break up with her (that is, if she didn't break up with him first) and move on with his life. And if she went right back to hating his guts – not that she ever stopped – then he didn't care. He hated her guts, too. Sort of.
"Whatcha thinkin' about?" Aubrey sang.
Madison blinked. His sister wasn't as dumb as she pretended to be – he knew that she could see right through him. He lied anyway. "Nothing," he said.
"Oh really," she replied. "You know, your month is up on Tuesday."
"Hmm," Madison mused. "So soon? I hadn't noticed."
"Bull shit," Aubrey rolled her eyes. "Are you really gonna do this, Mads?"
"Break up with Paige."
"Well, yeah. That was the deal, right? One month and we could be done. Why would I prolong it further than necessary?"
Maybe because you like her, you dolt. You care about her and you want to be with her and you can't stand the idea of this whole thing you've got coming to an end. Plus, she's way hotter than any of your ex-girlfriends. (All two of them!)
Well, there it was. Aubrey eyed the blush on her brother's face and sighed. "You're so weird," she said. "Why can't you just admit that you're falling for her?"
"Because," Madison replied a little too quickly. "I'm not falling for her."
But he was, and he knew it. And he hated it. And that was why he had to break up with her.
"Whatever, dude," Aubrey said. She stood up and made her way to the fridge. Madison watched as his sister took out a Yoplait Yogurt.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
She stared at him, her head cocked to one side slightly. "Eating yogurt…is there something wrong with that?"
"Uh, no," Madison replied. It was just that he was so used to having Paige eat all of their yogurt that he forgot they were actually purchased for his sister and him. Paige was the only one he ever saw eating it. It was strange seeing Aubrey eat it instead.
"Okay then," Aubrey said. She licked the yogurt off the inside of the lid and chuckled. "These always have the weirdest facts inside of them. Paige loves them. She says they make her feel smart."
"She is smart," Madison said.
Aubrey stared. Oh, crap. Did he just say that? He was a firm believer in Paige's stupidity, and he'd just called her smart? What the hell?
"I mean," he said. "Smart as in…stinging. Painful. Not like, intelligent smart. That's stupid. She's stupid."
The blonde girl had tried her very hardest to suppress a laugh. "Good save," she said. And with that, she skipped up the stairs, leaving Madison to whack himself on the forehead in embarrassment.
On March 2nd, Madison walked Paige to her first period class, just like always. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close, just like always. And he kissed her goodbye, just like always.
Except this time his lips lingered a little longer, because he knew what day it was and he knew it was probably going to be their last kiss. Paige didn't protest. He had a feeling she thought the same thing.
It was a good thing no teachers were around, because they definitely would've gotten sprayed with a bottle of water for that one.
"See you later," Paige muttered as she pulled away. She made it about a foot before Madison stopped her.
"Wait," he said.
She spun around. "Yeah?"
He sighed. It was time. "Well," he said, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck as he did so. "It's been exactly a month."
Paige stared. "Oh," she said. She saw this coming. "That's right."
"Yeah," Madison said. "So…we're free. Thank God that's finally over, right?" He chuckled uncomfortably, his attempt to lighten the mood failing completely.
"Right," Paige laughed nervously.
"I mean," he prattled on, "Who were we kidding, really? We don't get along. All we have is sexual attraction for each other, and that's not enough to build a relationship off of."
"Right," she said again.
"Anyway…I should probably get to class. Are we…are we good?"
"I guess so. Bye, Madison."
She turned and was gone. "Bye," he mumbled.
"Your brother is an idiot."
Aubrey gave her best friend an amused look. "Really?" she said. "I was under the impression that he was Valedictorian of our class. I thought that meant he was smart, not stupid."
"He may be book smart, but when it comes to other stuff, he's fucking retarded."
Aubrey laughed. "What did he do this time?"
"He broke up with me," Paige spat.
"What?" Aubrey's brown eyes widened. "I thought for sure he'd chicken out..." she mumbled to herself.
"What, did he think I was going to beat him up or something?" Paige asked. She knew Aubrey hadn't meant for her to hear that last part, but it didn't matter.
"I don't blame him," Aubrey said. "You're clearly pissed. Speaking of which, why are you so mad? I thought you hated dating him?"
"I did," the redhead said. "But that doesn't mean I like being dumped. I wanted to dump him."
"Sure you did."
"Then why didn't you?"
"I was going to do it at lunch! But no, he beat me to it. Stupid asshole."
Aubrey tried to stifle her laughter. Paige was clearly peeved for more than just the reason she was revealing, and it was kind of hilarious. "Why wait until lunch to do it? I thought you wanted to get it over with as soon as possible."
"Stop saying things that are hard to come up with excuses for," Paige whined. Aubrey really did laugh out loud that time.
"You're so silly, Paigey." Aubrey smiled. "You're obviously sad about the break up. It's okay to cry, you know. I'm here for you," she said playfully.
"You're a bitch," Paige replied. She sighed. "Fine, you want to know why I'm so mad?"
"Yes!" Aubrey clapped her hands together. That girl got excited way too easily.
"…nevermind. I don't want to tell you."
"Paige Davidson! Tell me this instant!"
"Please," Aubrey begged. "I tell you everything."
"But this is embarrassing!"
"It doesn't matter! I told you when I threw up all over Flynn on our first date. I told you when I peed my pants on the playground in second grade," she said. "I told you when – "
"Okay, I get it," Paige interjected. "I'll tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone."
Aubrey nodded. "I promise," she said.
Paige took a deep breath. "…I slept with Madison."
Aubrey's jaw dropped. "WHAT?"
"Oh, shit. In a dream! I meant I had sex with him in a dream! Not in real life," Paige said hurriedly. "I probably should've started with that, huh?"
"Well, yeah!" Aubrey shouted. "You almost gave me a fucking heart attack!"
"Aubrey Nicole," Paige chastised. "Such language."
"Oh, whatever, you swear every five seconds," Aubrey rolled her eyes. Then she remembered the situation at hand. "…you had a sex dream about my brother?"
Paige winced. "Shhhhh, keep your voice down! He might hear you."
"So it's true then? You really did? Paige, that's gross!"
"I know! It's terrible! That's why I'm pissed off."
"So what does that mean?" Aubrey asked. "You like him? Or you're just really horny?"
"Um, probably both?" she said, a blush rising on her cheeks. "I can't believe this. I can't believe I fucking fell for your brother."
Aubrey squealed. "This is so exciting!" she said. "If only he hadn't have broken up with you."
"No kidding." Paige averted her eyes to the ground.
"Oh," Aubrey said quietly. "You actually like him. You're sad."
"I'm not sad," Paige said. Her tone of voice said otherwise, though. "I'm angry, remember?"
"You're not angry. You're sad! You know, I was sort of joking when I said you could cry, but part of me was being totally serious. You can cry. I don't mind."
"I'm not going to cry over stupid Madison Howley," Paige spat. "No way. If anything, I'd be crying over my own lack of common sense, because I never should've started liking him in the first place. It's a recipe for disaster. He hates me."
"He doesn't hate you," Aubrey said. "Just the other day he admitted that you were smart. And then I called him out on it and he got all embarrassed. See? He likes you."
"That doesn't mean he likes me, Aubrey." Paige rolled her eyes. "It just means he doesn't think I'm stupid."
"But that's good, right? It's better than nothing, anyway."
"I guess. Although I almost wish things would just go back to how they used to be. It was so much easier hating his guts."
"But this is more fun! Right?"
"Um, no. Not at all."
"Aw," Aubrey pouted. "But I wanted you guys to get married. Then we'd be sisters! How cool would that be?"
"Uh, not that cool, since I'd have to be married to Madison."
"But you just admitted that you like him."
"That doesn't mean I want to marry him!" Paige shouted. She lowered her voice when she realized how loud she was being. "Anyway, this is a stupid conversation. Maybe I should just go home. I have to read a bunch for English."
Aubrey sighed. "Okay," she said. "What chapter did you get to in class today?"
"Are you kidding? I haven't even started the book yet. I have to read one hundred pages tonight."
It wasn't a lie, but honestly, Paige didn't want to go home to read. That was what Spark Notes was for – duh! There was only one reason why she wanted out of the Howley household. Madison lived there. And wherever Madison was involved, that only meant one thing:
She was miserable.
He was miserable.
At first, not being with Paige was refreshing – great, even. He could quote Mark Twain and John Steinbeck and make corny math jokes in peace. But even that wore off after only about two hours. What fun was it being knowledgeable if you didn't have someone to share your smarts with? Not to mention that going a whole day without arguing got boring pretty fast.
Madison cringed when Smells like Teen Spirit came on the radio. That's what sucked the most; he couldn't go back to just hating Paige. He would've in a heartbeat if it was that easy, but it wasn't – every little thing reminded him of her.
He couldn't watch anything with Ryan Reynolds in it without thinking about Valentine's Day; he couldn't eat nachos without tasting the nasty ones they shared at the Foo Fighters concert; he couldn't even relax in his own home because he could always hear her faded laughter coming from down the hall.
And that was precisely why he took to driving around in his car instead. He didn't have anywhere to go, but he figured it was better than hanging around his house with her there.
He parked in front of the grocery store. He figured he might as well buy toilet paper while he was out and about; they were almost out at home.
When he walked in the store, the first person he saw was Grace Davidson – Paige's sixteen year old sister. At first glance, she looked a lot like Paige. She looked a lot like her under normal circumstances, too, but given the "condition" Madison was in, it was needless to say that he freaked out just a little bit.
That plan was a failure. He ran out of the store as soon as he saw Grace and took cover in the safety of his car. Of course, as soon as he turned it on the radio started blasting Everlong by the Foo Fighters – he really needed to stop putting the alternative rock/grunge station on default – and he just couldn't take it anymore.
"I give up," he said. He drove home in a slump, and in his pit of exhaustion and pity he failed to watch where he was going as he ran up the stairs to his room. The result of such carelessness was what he liked to call "Karma being a total bitch." He ran into Paige.
Madison fully expected her to lash out at him, to yell, shriek, and swear – but all she did was look at the ground and mumble, "Sorry," before pushing past him and out the front door.
"What the hell?" he muttered to himself. Then, as an afterthought, he yelled, "Aubrey!"
"Maddie!" his sister's voice came from down the hallway. Followed by the hated nickname came the girl herself, who emerged from her room and skipped up to meet her brother. "Did you just get home?"
"Yeah," he said. "Hey…what's up with Paige?"
She stared at him. "What's up with Paige?" she asked. "Are you seriously asking me that right now?"
"Uh…yes? I just bumped into her on accident and she didn't even yell at me. She just apologized and ran out the door. That's not normal."
"Well duh it's not normal!" Aubrey shouted. The girl threw her hands up in frustration.
"So what's wrong?"
"Aren't you supposed to be the smart one? Paige was right, you are an idiot."
"Thanks, but I'm not the one taking Pre-Algebra my senior year," Madison said.
"Hey, I'm in that class too, so don't be hatin," Aubrey replied. "Anyway, can't you tell Paige is upset? When are you guys going to get back together?"
"What?" Madison shouted. "Get back together? Don't be ridiculous."
"Madison, come on," Aubrey rolled her eyes. "She's upset, you're upset, and lunch is really awkward when you guys won't even argue with each other anymore. Instead, it's like she doesn't exist to you and you don't exist to her."
"I thought you hated our arguing," he pointed out.
"I did, but anything is better than this…this…silence! You guys are my two best friends. If you can't get over yourselves and admit how much you mean to each other, then at least go back to the way things were before all this shit. For the sake of my sanity, please, Madison!"
"It's not that easy," he said. "Arguing with her only makes me think of…other things."
"Well then maybe you should act on those other things and confess your undying love for her! You've got to pick one, Bub," Aubrey said.
"I do not have undying love for her. And even if I did, I wouldn't know how to tell her."
"You're smart. I'm sure you could think of something. Can't you just quote some sappy poetry or Shakespeare or something?"
"No, that's stupid."
"What? You love Shakespeare. You've read his complete workslike seven hundred times – "
"Shakespeare isn't stupid, the idea is. You know Paige would hate that. She wouldn't understand. Plus, I'm not going to belittle myself to quoting fucking love poems to her."
"Why not?" Aubrey asked. "Just show me what you've got. Come on, let's hear it!"
Madison blinked. "No way," he said.
"I know you have it memorized. You analyze the shit out of that stuff. Now quote me some Shakespeare!"
The boy sighed. He knew his sister wasn't going to give up anytime soon. Madison cleared his throat in submission and said, "Doubt thou the stars are fire; Doubt that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love."
Aubrey stared. He stared back. Neither of them said anything for at least ten seconds, and then out of nowhere, Aubrey burst into laughter. "You're right," she said between chuckles. "Paige would think that was the dumbest thing in the world. She'd probably just laugh at you."
"Kind of like you are right now?"
"Exactly! Anyway, you don't need Romeo and Juliet to win her over." The girl grinned at her brother and gave him a pat on the back. "Now you just have to think of how you're actually going to tell her how you feel."
"That wasn't Romeo and Juliet; that was Hamlet. And I already told you, I'm not going to do that, I – " Aubrey gave him a look. He sighed. "Oh, screw it. I have to get her back."
Aubrey's eyes lit up and in that moment, she looked happier than she ever had before. "Yes!" she shouted. "Go get 'er, tiger!"
"You're really strange, you know that, right?"
"But you love me anyway," she winked.
Madison sighed. "Yes," he said. "Luckily for you, I do."
"That's what I thought."
Paige whistled as she unlocked the door to the Howley household with her spare key. She and Aubrey were going to watch a movie together, but her best friend had to retake a test after school, so she would be waiting there by herself for about forty-five minutes.
It wasn't a big deal; Aubrey's house was more like a home to her than her own house. And Madison wasn't going to be around because he had a Knowledge Bowl competition that night and the team would be practicing all day long.
At least, that's what she thought – but she was proved wrong when she saw his messy blonde head peeking over the edge of the couch. He was watching the History Channel. Typical.
At the sound of the door opening and then clicking shut, Madison spun around. At the sight of his ex-enemy and ex-girlfriend, he paled. "Paige," he said, almost in a panic. "Hi."
Paige froze. "Hello," she said curtly. "…I thought you had Knowledge Bowl."
"The competition was canceled," he shrugged. They stared at each other awkwardly for a moment until Madison stood up. "Uh…want some yogurt?" he asked.
The girl raised a brow. Why was he being nice to her? They'd spent the last few weeks completely ignoring each other. It was much easier to convince herself she didn't need him that way. "Sure," she said anyway, because really, no matter what the circumstances were she would never say no to yogurt.
Madison rummaged around in the fridge, hesitating before choosing which yogurt to give her, as if he couldn't decide which flavor was best. Paige found this a little odd, seeing as he knew very well which kind she liked best, but she let it go. It was probably nothing.
He approached her slowly. "Here," he said, holding the yogurt out to her.
She took it curiously and said, "Thanks," before plopping down on the couch. She might as well make use of her time while she waited for Aubrey.
Madison swallowed and followed suit, being sure to leave a substantial amount of room between the two of them. He was nervous, and for good reason. Paige was opening her yogurt.
She licked the back off the lid, as she always did, and read the fact.
Only it wasn't a fact. It was a question. A statement and a question, actually. I made a mistake. Be my girlfriend again, please?
Eyes wide, Paige looked up at Madison, who actually blushed.
"Um," he said. "I just…well, we had a really good thing going and the more time we spend apart the more I realize that it was a bad call on my part to end our relationship. If you could even call it that…"
Paige said nothing. She didn't know what to say. Madison actually liked her? He wanted her back? What?
"I mean, I get it if you don't want to get back together. We're sworn enemies, or whatever. But I just thought…well…I sound like an idiot. God, this was a bad idea. You hate me."
It took all she had to shake herself out of her trance. She was just so shocked by the whole notion of Madison confessing his feelings for her, of Madison blushing, of Madison stumbling over his words. At the realization that he thought her silence meant rejection, she threw her yogurt to the side and flung herself at the boy in front of her. He reacted in an instant, pressing his lips against hers, and it was wonderful, breath-taking Valentine's Day all over again.
When they parted, Paige had only one thing to say. "Madison, I don't hate you."
He smiled and kissed her again.
"I don't hate you, too."