The manager of the five-story hotel was laying face-down on the floor of the lobby in a near-comatose state. His attempts to stop the people from destroying his lobby were failures, and the matter became worse when they began to suspect him of harboring the blue team's flag. The horde of capture-the-flag players forcefully stripped him down to his underwear, and only then began to question whether the flag was really hidden in the hotel.
"Michy, we searched the hotel lobby. No, we can't find anything. Yeah, we tore this place apart." A group began digging through the stuffing in the couch cushions to see if the flag was hidden inside. One of the team players spoke into his cell phone. "Should we keep looking? What do you want us to do in the park? Right, right, we're on our way." The man hung-up and forwarded Michy's new instructions to his teammates.
As Carrie led David to the jail that was the adult toy store, she walked slightly ahead of him with her hands folded in front of her and her head down. She hadn't said a word since they left the department store.
That idiot, David thought. That idiot, that idiot Rosaline. She always makes everything so much more difficult than it needs to be. If she would just leave us alone then I could have settled this the way I wanted to. Everything would be patched up with Carrie, and it wouldn't look like I just did it because she said some nice things about me.
David looked at Carrie's back as she walked ahead of him. The headlight of a passing car hit them both and then zoomed passed them. David's stomach felt funny.
No, he thought, it's my fault. If I had confessed to Carrie a month ago, then I wouldn't be feeling this way. If I had talked to her about why we made her and Rosaline kiss, then I wouldn't be feeling this way. Hell, if I gave her proper thanks for the manga she bought, then…it'd be better by now. If I don't say anything now, will it become even harder to say something tomorrow?
"Hey, Carrie, I want…to…"
Carrie turned around to face him. David was frozen and his stomach only felt worse. Her pigtails fluttered in the breeze created by the passing cars. Her face was lightly red, and tears trickled down her cheeks.
"Sorry," Carrie muttered as she turned around. She wiped her face with the back of her hand and began to run away.
David quickly grabbed her hand and stopped her. The sniffling Carrie didn't move while David held her hand. The blonde boy wrapped his arms around her middle and embraced her from behind.
"Carrie, I am so sorry," David said softly. "The last thing in this world that I'd ever want to see is you crying. And to make it worse, it's all my fault. Isn't it?"
"No," Carrie said, "It isn't your fault. It's mine. I'm a terrible friend." New tears started spilling. "Rosaline teases you and calls you names, and I never do anything to stop her."
"It's no big deal; that's my problem, not yours." A light smile appeared on his lips as he nestled his cheek against her hair. He was growing very fond of the smell of her shampoo. "Don't worry about me."
"It is my problem," Carrie said between sobs. She placed her hands over his. "I realized that I'm always relying on you to take care of me. When the cross-dresser attacked me, you were the first one to come to my side. And then you got hurt because of it. I'm sorry; I feel incredibly selfish. But even now, in your arms, I feel so comfortable. And that's not fair to you, David."
"If I could comfort you like this forever, I'd be the happiest man in the world," David said sweetly. Carrie's eyes opened wide upon hearing this. "You never have to worry about repaying me. I will always be by your side to look after you, but only because that's what I want."
"But I'll still feel like a burden." Carrie muttered.
"Carrie," David released his grasp. She turned around to face him as a passing car lit up his face for a brief moment. "Then we'll look after each other. That'd be fair, right?"
Carrie's face slowly lit up.
"Okay," she said happily while still holding his hand. Her warm smile across her tearstained face made David's heart melt for the nth time.
He wanted to protect her. He wanted to be with her. He wanted them to have fun together again, along with Frankie and Al and R-Kelley and even the obnoxious one. Even if it's the least I can do, David thought, this is my decision.
They walked hand-in-hand down the semi-crowded streets. The numerous tourists were all rushing to find a place to see the show that started in a few minutes.
David pondered over his decision. He had seen dozens of anime characters accept rejection the exact same way, so why was it so hard to come to this conclusion? I guess being a performer is more difficult than being a spectator, David mused. But still…
"Carrie, I know that someday you're going to find some…person that you really like. Just understand that no matter who it is, I'll always support you. You don't have to hide anything from me. I'm on your side, regardless of who you choose."
Carrie thoughtfully looked at the sidewalk ahead of her.
"Even if I end up liking some deranged drug addict or a member of the mafia?"
David hadn't thought of that.
"Uh, well, regardless of who you choose, I'm always on your side," he repeated. "And even though I know you can handle yourself, I'll try my best to protect you."
Carrie smiled lightly.
"Thank you," she said as she gave his hand a gentle squeeze.
In the park, a college girl with short black hair stood with a paper plate in one hand and her mouth full.
"Hey, this is really good," Jill said.
"Why thank you, Madam," Frankie said, saluting her with his spatula, "that's a bratwurst you've got there. It's my specialty." Frankie flipped a few burgers that cooked on the grill he stood before.
"You must be quite the cook." She gave him a seductive smile. "I'm Jill. We should hang-out some time."
"Hey, buddy, back off my woman!" Jack leaped in between Jill and Frankie, as if shielding her with his body.
"Heh, of course," Frankie smiled awkwardly and returned to cooking.
"Geez, what's the matter with you?" Jill gave Jack a light shove. "Don't I have the right to have guy friends?"
"Oh, c'mon baby," Jack said as his girlfriend stormed off.
Frankie flipped a few burgers on the grill, while Al, Michy, R-Kelley and all their teammates ate and talked at the picnic table or on the grass around them. Frankie just set a patty in a bun for a guy holding out his plate when he caught sight of David and Carrie approaching the group and holding hands.
"Does this mean what I think it means?" Frankie asked with an expectant smile.
"Nope," both David and Carrie said in unison.
"Well," Frankie said with a sigh, "that's kind of a relief in its own way."
Carrie took a seat at the picnic table across from R-Kelley, while David stood next to Frankie at the grill. The short blonde yawned loudly.
"I'm exhausted," David mumbled.
"Well, yeah, you were up all night, and you had a pretty busy day," Frankie said as he handed David a plate with a burger. "Actually come to think of it, I'm pretty worn out too."
"Yep, I'm going to sleep well tonight," David said as he yawned again and took a seat next to Carrie.
"Hey look," Al shouted and pointed up to the sky.
The fireworks show had begun. One after another the rockets were launched over the ocean only to explode in a bright fire that lit up the dark sky in all kinds of colors. The booms echoed on the mountains to the east. From the dark park the group had a decent view of the show, although the beach house would have been a better vantage point.
"Meh, you've seen one firework you've seen them all," Michy said as she took a bite out of her burger.
"Yeah, but it does make it feel like summer, don't you think?" Frankie said.
"Hey Frankie!" Rosaline yelled as she stalked over to him, "Why haven't you tagged all these people; they're on our side!"
"Sorry Rosaline, but Al and I had to step out of bounds to get the food from the beach house. I guess we're out of the game." Frankie seemed to pay more attention to the grill than her.
"I will not stand for this insubordination! Don't you know the motto of the blue team is to never surrender? I can't believe you just gave up like that. I'll have you court-martialed Colonel! In fact, I'm demoting you to the rank of warrant officer. Yeah, how do you like that?" She ranted angrily at Frankie until he held out a plate with a burger on top. "If you think this'll save your butt, you've got another thing coming!" She then took the plate, shoved David out of the way and sat down next to Carrie. Rosaline took a bite. "This is good," she said, still trying to sound angry.
Carrie gave David a concerned look, but he waved it off and took a new place at the picnic table away from Rosaline. He normally would have been irritated, but he was still riding high from that intimate moment with Carrie a few minutes ago.
"Hey Michy," David said as the fireworks continued to explode, "I was thinking. Why did we never just send all or even half of our team to their side? It would have ended the game a lot quicker."
Michy had a slightly embarrassed look on her face.
"I-I thought of that," she stuttered, "but I just wanted to make them suffer for a while. It's better to destroy any hope they had of winning. That's what made them give up after all."
"I thought you wanted to keep the game going because you were having fun."
"Shut up, R-Kelley."
"Isn't that also why you insisted on facing Rosaline alone?"
"Hey, she wanted her revenge, so I had no choice but to one-up her myself. And I won," Michy said proudly. R-Kelley smiled at that. "Oh hi, Bro Dog, where'd you come from?" The golden retriever looked up at Michy expectantly. She tore off a bit of her hamburger and held it out for him "Sorry, there's no paprika on it."
"Why would you put paprika on a hamburger? That's just silly," R-Kelley said. Michy gave him an annoyed glare as Bro Dog ate the offering.
"Frankie," Al went up to his friend at the barbeque. "Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you hadn't been locking Rosaline in her room every night?"
"What do you mean?" Frankie gave Al a confused look.
"If Rosaline's door wasn't locked, then Carrie would have gone into her room instead. And then who knows what would've happened." Al whispered.
"Ugh, I'd really rather not think about that."
"That reminds me," Al sat down next to Carrie after Rosaline had stood up in order to argue with Michy. "So everything's all fixed with you and David now, right? Everything's out in the open? We're all friends again?"
"Yes," Carrie said happily, "everything's back to normal."
"Good, then perhaps you can tell me something. What happened in that dream you were having?" Al asked as he leaned his elbow on the wooden table.
"You know, you were having a dream about Rosaline that night you went into David's room and started feeling him up." Al explained with an eager grin. "Was it really kinky? I'm dying to know!"
"What!" Carrie shrieked, her face going red so quickly it must have been a personal record. "D-David, y-you s-said I didn't d-do…"
"Way to go, Al!" David stood up and slammed his hands against the table. "You jerk, can't you keep your mouth closed for once. Ah!"
Rosaline pulled on David's ear and said "You pervert, don't you go harpin' on my main man Albert Hans!"
"God, again with the 'pervert.' Are you incapable of thinking of better insults?" Michy groaned.
"She does seem to say that quite often, doesn't she," R-Kelley agreed with an oblivious smile.
"Shut up, Blondie; your kind's not welcome here," Rosaline yelled as she released David.
"And what kind is that?" Michy stood up so that she could stare Rosaline in the eye.
"The kind that pisses me off!" Rosaline shouted in Michy's face.
"I am going to murder you," Michy said angrily.
"Well then let's finish this once and for all!"
"Fine then," Michy said holding up her hand like she was ready to go, "rock-paper-scissors."
"Haha, Blondie, you're once again thinking too small. But that's to be expected, isn't it? Haven't you learned anything from this whole incident? The size of the solution has to fit the size of the problem. Our rivalry is as big as King Kong; as big as the universe even. And it needs to be treated as such. Arm wrestle, right now, let's go!" Rosaline said as she placed her elbow on the table.
"No, I'm not doing that," Michy refused.
"Yes, then I win. Hahahahah!" Rosaline gave a victory dance.
"Geez, you're immature!"
"What did you say?"
"Hey! You stop fighting or I'll turn this barbeque around!" Frankie yelled from the grill.
"Sorry, Dad," the two said in unison as they sat back in their own seats.
Rosaline continued to watch the fireworks go off one after another until midnight. In her mind, she reviewed everything that had happened so far this summer. It had been pretty full. But there was still that one thing she had to accomplish. She wasn't ready to give up yet. Despite her eagerness, Rosaline didn't have a problem taking this short break to hang-out with her friends. After all, there was still plenty of summer left.
"Frankie, I've got this great new idea about how to attract a boyfriend!" Rosaline exclaimed excitedly. Frankie and the others listened without interruption as she went on to explain the latest of many crazy ideas that popped into her mind. "The poor sap will never see it coming!"
Author's Note: And that's what we call plot resolvement!
Thank you to everyone who has read this story and a special thanks to all those who took the time to review it. Your kind words gave me the power to keep going.
No, make no mistake, this is where we're ending. There aren't going to be anymore chapters. Go home.